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What to do when someone poses a risk

The tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., has revealed that many associates, teachers, students, neighbors, etc., failed to alert mental-health officials (about concerns related to Jared Loughner). Where would one call in Medford? Is that number readily available?

— Jim F., Medford

In a crisis situation, you should always call 9-1-1, Jim. If there is no imminent danger, but you have concerns someone may put themselves or others at risk, you can call 541-774-8201 and ask to speak to a pre-commitment investigator at Jackson County Mental Health, said Maureen Graham, division manager.

The investigators will determine whether there are two different people who are both sharing the same concerns, which could result in a judge ordering the person to be "committed for care," Graham said.

Sometimes a person poses a danger only to themselves. At other times they may pose a public safety risk. In either case, civil commitment is a very controlled process that weighs various safety risks against the civil rights of an individual, she added.

"The issue for civil commitment law is whether there's a personal danger or not," Graham said. "It's a highly structured process and it's up to a judge."

The county line is open 24/7 and crisis workers are on call, she said. Situations that arise after regular business hours often result in the person of concern being taken to the hospital for evaluation, she added.