In case of emergency

When a person presents an immediate danger to themselves or to others, everyone’ssafety is the number one priority.

For example:

  • Someone is attempting suicide
  • A person threatens to end their life in the next few hours
  • A person makes specific threats of violence
  • A person is violent towards another individual
  • You feel your safety is at risk
  • A person is a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence


When someone’s safety is at risk, contact emergency services (police, ambulance, fire department) immediately to request assistance. Emergency personnel are trained to intervene in situations where prevention and caution are needed.

If an individual represents a serious and immediate danger, or if their mental state requires it, the police may escort them to a hospital. The law allows an individual to be placed in protective custody in hospital for up to 72 hours to protect them from themselves or others. A person in protective custody is not required to undergo psychiatric evaluation or treatment.


What is a breakdown?

A breakdown is a major episode of psychological distress that can occur gradually or suddenly and unexpectedly. In some cases, it can be triggered by a difficult life event such as a break-up with a spouse, the loss of a job, grief over a death, financial problems, etc. It can manifest itself in several ways: by a panic attack, intense anxiety symptoms, psychotic symptoms, delirium or even suicidal thoughts. A breakdown can also occur in someone without a known mental health problem.

What to do during a breakdown?

If a person is having a breakdown but is not an immediate danger to themselves or others, there are several possible courses of action Always keep in mind that if danger is imminent, you should contact emergency services by dialling 9-1-1.

If a person is having a breakdown and accepts help:

  • Encourage them to contact a crisis centre for immediate assistance. Crisis centres are open to everyone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For a list of crisis centres in the Greater Montreal area, click here.
  • Encourage them to go to the psychosocial admission centre at the CLSC closest to their home: this is often the entry point to government and community mental health services.
  • Encourage them to go to a psychiatric emergency room at a hospital, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may also call an ambulance to take them there.
  • Encourage them to see a psychologist. For a list of psychological services based on income, click here. To consult the Ordre des psychologues du Québec, click here
  • Encourage them to seek medical attention.

If a person is having a breakdown and refuses help:

  • Try to convince your loved one to get the help they need.
  • As a last resort, it is possible to obtain a P-38 psychiatric evaluation order against your loved one’s wishes. This option must only be used with great care. If this option is pursued, it can have major consequences on the person’s relationship with family and friends. If you would like more information on the P-38, call AQPAMM, your CLSC or a crisis centre.

What about friends and family members?

Breakdowns can be very difficult for loved ones, who may feel helpless or experience frustration and exhaustion.

AQPAMM is here to help you see clearly in these situations. Remember that bytaking care of yourself, you’ll protect your own mental health and be in a better position to help your loved one.

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