Gilmore a part of new WRAL documentary examining law enforcement interactions with mentally ill

When law enforcement officers are called to help with a mentally ill person, sometimes the results are tragic. The new WRAL Documentary “A Call for Help” examines one family’s story and why interactions between law enforcement and the mentally ill are increasing in North Carolina. John Gilmore, MD, was interviewed for the documentary, which airs Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

Reforms to North Carolina’s mental health system that began in the early 2000s were designed to move the mentally ill out of large institutions like Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Hospital, and into privately run, community-based facilities. Development of those private beds fell short leaving many mentally ill people without care. As a result, calls to 911 for help are frequently answered by law enforcement officers who are trained to deal with criminals, not with mentally ill people in a crisis.

On January 5, 2014, the parents of 18-year-old Keith Vidal of Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina called 911 for help because their son was having a schizophrenic episode. Law enforcement officers responded and one of the officers shot and killed the teen.

“A Call for Help” examines the Keith Vidal story, and looks at new training designed to help officers interact with mentally ill or mentally distressed people, to help calm those interactions and avoid violence or arrest.

John Gilmore, MD, Director for the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health was interviewed for the documentary, which airs Thursday, October 23 at 7 p.m.

Statewide Broadcast Schedule

WRAL-TV/Raleigh - Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m.

WILM-TV/Wilmington - Saturday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m.

WRAZ-TV/Durham - Saturday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m.

To watch a preview of the documentary, go to and search: WRAL doc.

The documentary will also be available for on-demand viewing any time after the premiere television broadcast on October 23.

On twitter, follow @WRALDoc and #ACallForHelp.