The world’s first mental health ambulance has arrived in Sweden after more than 1,500 suicides and 15,000 suicide attempts were reported annually. Stockholm introduced the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PAM), specifically designed to assist in emergency response therapy.
According to Apolitical, although it looks like a conventional ambulance from the outside, the inside is drastically different. Rather than bright lights and stretchers, patients are greeted with comfortable seats and warm, inviting lights.
In Stockholm, PAM responds to over 130 calls per month on average, a majority of them relating to suicide. Anki Björnsdotter, who works as a mental health nurse, and gave the publication insight into working with PAM. “We help people who are suicidal and people who suffer from severe mental illness,” she said. “It can be someone who is manic and not aware of their own mental state, such as a person who needs to go to a hospital without realizing they need to. Also, people who are psychotic and people suffering from schizophrenia who haven’t taken their medicine and are in distress.” She added that the police handled these types of calls in the past but that their presence made people feel like they had done something wrong.
As of now, Stockholm is the only Swedish city to have implemented the ambulance. However, other regions like Skåne, Örebro, Blekinge, and Jönköping are all looking into the possibility of using PAM. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before the United States adopts the same measure to reduce suicide rates.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.