A man with a gun decides to take his own life, but is swayed by police negotiators into peaceful surrender. The incident in Waterville this month is an example of how de-escalation training helped law enforcement reach out to and connect with Gary Cross at a time when he was in crisis.

But if Waterville police follow through on a pledge to hold Cross responsible for the incident, he could face a hefty bill for restitution – a decision that would undercut the success of the state police intervention.

Cross became the focus of an eight-hour standoff Dec. 7 and 8 when, police say, he drove from his home in Troy to the parking lot of the Waterville Police Department. There, he sat in his truck while holding a loaded gun. State police negotiators reached him by cellphone, talking with him for two hours before he unloaded the weapon and was taken into protective custody.

Cross, 58, had been having financial challenges and believed he had failed to provide for his family, the chief negotiator told the Morning Sentinel. And research backs up the significance of money woes as a risk factor for suicide among middle-aged Americans. Since 1999, there’s been a steady rise in suicides among adults between the ages of 40 and 64 – with a spike starting in 2007, leading researchers to conclude that the Great Recession has played a major role in the increase.

But as he tries to recover from his crisis, Cross could have another big expense. Waterville police officials have said that they’re considering issuing a civil violation of creating a police standoff. This would allow them to seek restitution for the expense of the incident, which they’ve estimated could total “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

That would be plausible if there were also allegations of a criminal offense, such as domestic violence or robbery. But Cross won’t be charged with a crime, state police have said. So to require him to pay out six figures would seem to say that needing police assistance is itself a crime.

What’s also worth noting is the relentless rollback of resources to help people with mental health issues before their situation escalates. Because of MaineCare cuts, thousands of low-income residents can’t afford counseling.

And those who are still covered may find it harder to get an appointment with a therapist, according to Jenna Mehnert, head of the advocacy group NAMI Maine. She told the Press Herald in an interview Tuesday that the state has slashed funding for community mental health centers by a third.

In Maine and around the country, an increasing number of law enforcement officers are recognizing the importance of learning how to defuse high-stress situations. To follow up such incidents by invoicing those who’ve been helped would reinforce the stigma involved in seeking assistance and send the wrong message to people in crisis.