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Delivery

Would you call the cops?

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Delivery

Tonight a homeless lady who attends Mass regularly was yelling during the homily. This lady appears to be mentally ill to some degree. She often yells at Mass. She sits on the floor behind the pews at the back of the Church where the entrance is and will yell random things. Usually the words are hard to understand and are short outburst. Then she is quiet. She usually takes Communion. I've spoken to her briefly before and gave her small amounts of money sometimes when she has asked.

Tonight she again was yelling briefly on and off. People who aren't familiar with her will often glance back confused (you can't see her from the pews) wondering what the yelling is. Durning the homily she had an outburst or two and then very clearly yelled f*** this s***. I will f*** everyone up. I sit in the very back so I step out the doors and approach her. We make eye contact and I ask her why are you yelling threats? She tells me to get away from her. I ask her again why she is yelling these things and she again says to get away from her. There was no ushers around or anyone to consult.

Tonight was the first time I've heard her angrily make a threat. All the other times the outburst haven't seemed angry or been threats.

What would you do in this situation? After approaching twice and being told to leave her alone. Let it go and speak to someone after Mass? Continue to try to engage her and see what the problem is? Call the police? 

Edited by Delivery

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monica_margaret

That sounds tough -- after trying to engage with her a couple times as you said I think it's best if you stop for now and leave her alone. If I were you I'd speak to someone else about it after Mass, first. I'd say calling the police might be a last resort; definitely, though, let someone else know and see what can be done. Maybe even try to talk to your parish priest about it before next Sunday (unless she even does this at daily Mass).

Obviously I haven't been there so I'm not entirely sure, but that's what I think might be a good course of action to take for now. Prayers!

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BarbaraTherese

Do you have a mental health help phone line? If so, I would contact them.  Do you have any means of talking to mental health professionals? If not, I would definitely try to talk to my pp about the situation, he must be aware of it and since the parish is his responsibility, he should address the situation in my book.  With the ready availability of guns in the USA, I would be very concerned as she is making threats and calling the police might be your only option and a kindness to all concerned.  I would speak to my pp first before calling in police.  I am surprised he has not initiated some sort of action.

In police custody, she will get the help she very much needs and the congregation will have a peaceful atmosphere at Mass.  Hence calling in the police might be the best and kindest path forward after seeking advice.  I would not let the situation go for too long without action.  The situation is serious.

I am very much aware that the situation here in South Australia might be vastly different to that in the USA.  We have a mental health line and often a two member team would call out and assess and decide on action.  Alternatively, advice is given over the phone.

Keeping you in prayer

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rkwright

In Texas the police have the ability to “arrest” an individual they believe is a danger to themselves or others and transport them to a mental health facility. They’re evaluated by doctors at that point. It’s called an emergency detention (if you live in Texas). This is all in the officers discretion and there is always a chance they take them to jail for the threats or whatever. The jail is not a great place for anyone much less the mentally ill. 

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CatherineM

My husband has schizophrenia. There are times he has breakthrough symptoms at mass due to the overwhelming emotions the Eucharist can bring up. He doesn’t scream though. She is obviously in need of medical help. If it was someone with Alzheimer’s, calling for help wouldn’t cause anyone concern. There are usually mental health crisis teams in large cities. If you don’t have one, call the police non-emergency number some time during the week and ask them how to handle the situation next time. 
 

It’s okay to love someone enough to force them to get help. 

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