Columbus police resorted to unusual steps this week to save the life of a local woman who was threatening to kill herself.
An officer used a Taser gun to subdue a 38-year-old woman who was cutting herself with a knife. Police had been alerted at 11:23 p.m. Tuesday through a local crisis hotline.
When three patrolmen entered an apartment east of Garland Brook Cemetery, they found the woman holding a knife to her neck, police department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
Officers tried several times to persuade the woman to drop the knife, Myers said. But after she repeatedly refused to comply, Officer Clayton Nolting stunned the woman with his Taser, causing the knife to drop from her hand.
The woman was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for a mental evaluation and later taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, according to a police report. She was released from the jail Friday morning after serving 48 hours.
Records show the legally disabled woman also was taken into custody last June for disorderly conduct and fighting. Myers said she has a history of mental illness and that her threat was likely a call for help.
She faces preliminary charges of disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. Her bond has been set at $8,500.
That was the second suicide call of the day to bring Columbus police officers into a tense situation. Five hours earlier, at 6:19 p.m., the department received an emergency call from a residence north of Cummins Plant One.
A woman said her intoxicated son had threatened to use car exhaust to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning, Myers said.
The family and police worked together to take duct tape and a hose from the despondent man and get him transported to Columbus Regional Hospital, Myers said.
Such cry-for-help scenarios have become more common in recent years. The number of suicide-threatening emergency calls in Bartholomew County have more than doubled during the past two years, from 91 in 2010 to 185 in 2012.
However, the actual number of people who have taken their own lives has remained fairly steady, Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher said.
The gap between threatening calls and actual suicides indicates that more people in despair over burdens such as economic hardship or homelessness are actually calling for help rather than intending to take their own lives, said Columbus therapist Roger Brinkman of Centerstone, a behavioral health care facility.
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