July 31, 2012

If someone's on the brink, he's there to talk them down

Crisis counselor Bob Rockett stopped a man from jumping off a dam near the Maine Mall last week.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Bob Rockett

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

In fact, while Rockett was talking the man off the dam, Freedman was engaging a woman who had threatened herself and coworkers.

Crisis counseling can be stressful but rewarding, Rockett said.

"The most important thing is the concern for the person you're working with. That's what makes it really stressful. You're concerned for this person that might hurt themselves and you're concerned for the people who love them."

There were tense moments Thursday, when it appeared the man was going to jump regardless of the intervention.

"Voices were raised," he said. "As much as you want to be as calm and neutral as possible, there is an ebb and flow in your own part. Sometimes you have to change up your tone a bit to re-acquire the person's attention."

About 90 minutes after police were called, Rockett persuaded the man to accompany him.

"At the end, the person calmly walked up the hill with me ... and turned himself over to officers and agreed to get help," he said.

After such an incident, Rockett seeks out the family and friends of the person he has encountered in crisis, who will need resources themselves.

Freedman says about half of Rockett's time is spent interacting with people in crisis, and the other half is spent working to keep people out of crisis.

Sauschuck said that while a high-profile incident is in the public eye, the day-to-day work afterward can have the greatest impact on individuals' lives and the community.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice named the Portland Police Department one of six training sites in the country where other departments can learn best practices.

For the 14 years the police liaison position has existed, Portland officers have been trained in crisis intervention -- though not to the degree of a crisis counselor. Now, 90 percent of the force has that training.

Steve Addario, director of the crisis intervention program at Opportunity Alliance, urged clients, family members or friends to call 774-HELP before a situation requires police. 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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