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Indian River County hospital shooting highlights importance of mental health treatment

Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital shooting 032622
Posted at 3:55 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 17:14:26-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — Over the weekend, Indian River County deputies shot and killed a man they said charged at them with a pair of scissors.

The incident happened in a hospital emergency room and shines a spotlight on the importance and accessibility of mental health treatment.

"The entire incident from when they see him and start to give chase to when he is on the ground is five seconds," said Sheriff Eric Flowers.

Five seconds in the emergency room Saturday night led to the death of a 29 year-old man, who deputies said came at them with a pair of raised scissors.

Flowers said the victim had been taken to a facility the day prior under a Baker Act order, wasn’t accepted there for some reason, and was back in the emergency room.

"We do know our local intake facility for mental health patients was full. They had no beds, which is why he and other patients that were waiting didn’t have a place to go," Flowers said.

Stories like this hit home for Brett Hall, the executive director of Mental Health Collaborative, a unique service to Indian River County.

"Our sole mission is to increase access to mental health services for the residents of Indian River County," Hall said.

120 people a month come through Hall's doors looking for help.

"Not just give them a number and say good luck. We make appointment for them, remove any barriers to access service for them, arrange transportation," Hall said.

Hall said they don’t just help people looking for treatment, but they also train people in "Mental Health First Aid."

"We don’t teach you how to diagnose depression or do therapy. We teach you how to have a conversation on how to understand mental health and how to have a conversation with folks around these issues," Hall said.

In their six years of operation, the McCabe Connections Center has seen 3% of the entire county population and Hall expects those numbers to rise.

The county ranks second in the state with regards to psychiatric providers. So Hall said the access is there, it’s about making the connections.