This zine was made for people who encounter strangers in public who are having a mental health crisis. The police are 16 times more likely to kill someone in a mental health crisis, even if they aren’t committing any crimes.

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Dedicated to the people in Oregon who have been killed while in their darkest moments.

Cops Kill the Mentally Ill. Crisis is not a Crime graphic. Don’t call the Cops 1. Get consent to help - do not force assistance. 2. Never leave a person in crisis without support or at least a witness from a distance if the cops show up. 3. Stay calm and speak low and slow. 4. Remember that the person is likely scared - not trying to cause a scene. 5. Ask if they have a safe person you can help connect them with. 6. A less stimulating environment or private space may help them feel safe - a key component in de-escalation. 7. Attend to their basic needs - food, water, and safety. A cigarette can often help temporarily quiet “brain noise.” 8. Do not feed into delusional thinking or paranoia, but also don’t try to argue or correct them. Crisis affects the way our brain receives info, this isn’t the time for nuance or logic. 9. Locate the nearest walk-in crisis center and encourage them to seek help - go there with them if you can. 10. Physical movement can calm the nervous system. See inside for more details. 11. Once the crisis has passed, self care for both the person in crisis and the support person are important. There is no shame in crisis, you deserve rest. 12. Lastly, leave religion out of it. No matter how innocuous your statement may seem, religion can be extremely triggering. Both to those with traumatic histories and those with religious obsessions. Try to keep your responses to any religious, spiritual, conspiratorial talk neutral and to a minimum. The Anatomy of a Crisis Brain shuts down the prefrontal cortex, focusing its energy on getting the body to safety. This helps us to be less distracted by complex thoughts and ideas when danger is imminent but also affects our logic and reasoning in the moment. Simultaneously the sensory input is often overloaded and chaotic. Eyes scan constantly, often not retaining/relaying unrelated visual information. Muscles to inner ear, jaw, and tongue may lose tone. This downtunes hearing and affects the ability to articulate words. The purpose is that it helps our ears to focus on low tones and open the throat to signal alarm. Part of the reason speaking in a lower voice is helpful. Heart rate increases - flooding the body with blood which circulates hormones and oxygen to the rest of the system. Breathing speeds up. Slowing the breath consciously can help to bring the system back down. GI Tract slows down and the stomach may be nauseated or cramping. Deep structural muscles tense, causing a “pit” feeling in the stomach. Skin sensitivity may be heightened as nerves are activated. Skeletal muscles are flooded with oxygenated blood and energy, often causing the urge to run or expend the energy that is being generated. This may come out aggressively. De-escalation of crisis can be aided by addressing and supporting these systems. Tossing or rolling a small item back and forth calmly can help someone calm and co-regulate. Singing, reciting a poem or favorite verse can be calming by slowing the breath. Doing activities like this WITH the person in crisis will activate their mirror neurons, which are powerful ways to de-escalate someone who is in the middle of crisis. The effects of adrenaline on the nervous system are generally felt for up to an hour after the stress has passed. Cycles can happen repeatedly. If you need help, reach out. The goal is to keep the person safe until the crisis passes and on the path to care.

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