How a failed mental health system leads to fatal police encounters



About the project

In the last two years, every single deadly police shooting in New Hampshire has involved someone with a mental illness.

Over the course of several months, the Monitor reviewed documents, interviewed family members, and spoke with police and mental health experts to determine why mental illness plays a disproportionate role in deadly encounters and ways the problem can be addressed.

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Summary of findings

More than 60% of people shot and killed by New Hampshire police over the last decade had a mental illness.

Mental health advocates say this represents a breakdown of the state's mental health system, which has failed to help people before they reach a point of crisis.

In the absence of a sufficient number of inpatient psychiatric treatment beds and robust community resources, police are often tasked with helping people with mental illness.

Many officers feel they are without sufficient resources and training to help those struggling with an untreated mental illness. Even so, mental health related calls often consume the vast majority of their time.

The deadly encounters that result from these culminating factors can leave families with life-altering grief and police officers with debilitating guilt and trauma.

Breaking point


A mother's calls for help resulted in the death of her son.

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Video of officer involved shooting in Meredith, NH, captured by Ring camera.

The audio in this video may be disturbing for some.


'Something is failing'

A police officer struggles with his own mental health in the aftermath of fatally shooting a man in the midst of a psychiatric crisis.

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Police shootings of people with mental illness over the last decade

De-escalating a crisis

Crisis intervention training aims to give police officers skills to better handle mental heath-related cases without resorting to using deadly force. To date, 231 state and local officers of the estimated 3,084 full-time, certified officers in New Hampshire have completed CIT training by the National Alliance on Mental Illness NH and many more have been trained through community mental health centers. More than $200,000 has been set aside in the 2022-23 state budget to expand core and refresher classes.

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To come

Different pieces of legislation have been proposed in the hopes of addressing mental health concerns earlier and responding to calls for help with specifically-trained psychiatric counselors.

If you need help

Crisis Intervention Services are available from community mental health centers. In the Monitor coverage area, contact:

Lakes Region Mental Health: 603-524-1100

Riverbend Community Mental Health Inc.: 603-228-1551 (general), 844-743-5748 (emergency)

NAMI NH: 800-2424-6264

For more resources, visit

The statewide suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-talk (1-800-273-8255).

Beginning on Jan. 1 2022, Granite Staters experiencing emotional distress, thoughts of suicide, or a substance use crisis will be able to call 833-710-6477 to speak with a trained professional who can help determine the appropriate level of care and a referral for services.

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