San Diego, Chula Vista and Oceanside police officers and sheriff’s deputies responded to 22,315 mental-health-related incidents — including suicide threats — in 2013, up about 55 percent from the 14,442 such reports in 2008, according to a report released Monday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Police lights. Photo by Chris Stone

The SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division undertook the study after receiving anecdotal reports that mental health calls were using up more law enforcement resources.

The number of such calls has increased each year since 2008, according to the report, with 15,226 reports in 2009, 17,388 in 2010, 19,194 in 2011, and 21,876 in 2012.

Possible reasons for the uptick include include stressful economic conditions and the release of non-violent offenders who may have psychological problems, the report stated.

SANDAG concluded that a regional policy is needed to deal with the growing problem, which costs time and money and presents a public safety risk.

 –City News Service