PIRC-Psychiatric Emergencies

Call the PIRC at 205-638-PIRC (7472) for mental health resources in your community.

Families have a hard time deciding when to seek emergency treatment for a mental health concern. A psychiatric emergency is a situation that is dangerous and life-threatening. Seek immediate attention if any of the following are present:

Risk to others:

  • Threatening to or thinking about harming a person or group of people
  • Threatening a person with a weapon
  • Harming animals
  • Becoming more violent toward others

Risk to self:

  • Threatening or thinking about suicide
  • Taking steps to commit suicide such as getting a weapon, making a noose, or gathering pills
  • Writing a suicide note

Changes in behavior or thinking:

  • Hearing or seeing things that are not present (hallucinations)
  • Hearing commands to harm others or themselves
  • Overly fearful, anxious or unreasonable (symptoms of paranoid thinking)
  • Losing touch with reality
  • Severe anxiety
  • Two or more of these behaviors: decreased appetite, decline in personal hygiene, poor sleep, increased isolation at home/refusal to leave home
  • Online searches about ways to harm themselves
  • Cutting or hurting themselves in an attempt to die

If your child is in immediate danger, call 911 or go directly to your nearest emergency room. If
you cannot transport your child safely call an ambulance or the police.

Some issues are concerning but do not require emergency psychiatric treatment and may be
addressed by a pediatrician or outpatient mental health provider during regular business
hours:

  • Routine medication changes or medication refills (prescriptions will not be provided in the emergency room)
  • Behavioral symptoms that have not improved with a prescription or prescription change
  • Full mental health evaluations (IQ testing and school IEP services)
  • Chronic concerns that are not life-threatening, such as mild anxiety and defiant behavior
  • Request for placement in a long-term residential facility

Call the PIRC at 205-638-PIRC (7472) for mental health resources in your community.