Two attempted suicides-by-cop in two days highlight law enforcement struggle with mental illness

Ashley Rodrigue talks to law enforcement officers about how they handle attempted suicides-by-cop situations.

NORTHSHORE --  Moments after blue lights went on for a simple seatbelt violation Friday, a traffic stop transitioned into a high-speed chase and crash onto this busy Slidell corner.

Officer Darrell Marcev quickly learned the situation was far from over.

"When he exits the vehicle swinging a knife and says, 'Shoot me, just shoot me,' then I realized there's something else going on here with him," he said.

Police were able to stop Rene Jaunet from trying to stab himself with a machete and got him mental health help, with praise from his wife.

"We were in the process of trying to get him help, the day before and that day, so I'm sad that it ended up like that, but I'm grateful at the fact of the way the police responded and didn't hurt him," said Rachelle Jaunet.

Saturday, in small-town Franklinton, police found themselves facing a similar attempted suicide-by-cop, the second one in six months.

"She brandished a weapon, stuck it out the door and at that point it becomes a tense situation,"  Franklinton Police Maj. Justin Brown.

That woman was also stopped and hospitalized, but as law enforcement spends this week remembering fallen colleagues, they're reminded of a different kind of threat on the rise; mental illness.

"When they get the feeling of hopelessness or they're no longer needed, then at that point, a person who may not even have a mental health issue can immediately become someone who is wanting to commit suicide," said Brown.

Because of the increase in violent interactions with those with mental illness, police are having to get extra training, for their safety and the safety of others.

"We're looking at the educational possibilities to be able to recognize mentally ill patients and start looking at de-escalation procedures while we're dealing with them," said Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal.

The effort is in line with the goal to always preserve life, when possible.

The St. Tammany Coroner's Office encourages anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide to call the state's 211 crisis hotline.  If you know of someone threatening themselves, you're encouraged to get them to an emergency room for immediate medical attention.

 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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