Longest psychiatric ward detention?

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by shadowonthewall, Oct 27, 2014.

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  1. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that many of the regulars here have experienced involuntary detention in a psychiatric ward, and wanted to know what the longest periods of detention that the posters here have either experienced or know of someone else having experienced. In the UK, I believe that the provisions of the Mental Health Act could theoretically allow someone to be locked up for life for their suicidal ideation.

    My only experience of involuntary detention was around 72 hours. I was caught by the police making preparations to end my life, and instead of putting me in jail, I was sent to psychiatric hospital, although it was positioned to me as if I had a choice between the two alternatives. My detention started in the early hours of a grim Wednesday morning and I was locked in a small room until various mental health professionals could interview me. I had to answer the same questions repeatedly to people in various different roles. I was then put under observation. I was deemed not to be suffering from a mental illness. They originally wanted to keep me in over the weekend, but I protested that this will cause me to miss even more work and put in jeopardy the job that I had recently gotten, and thus they allowed me out on Friday afternoon (I worked evenings). I managed to gain this release by telling the psychiatrists what they wanted to hear about my 'new lease on life'.

    Although the way that I was treated whilst in detention did not traumatise me, the lesson that will abide with me chills me to the bone: I am not the owner of my life, and I can be locked up for any length of time because of my beliefs. Had a polygraph test had been required in order to gain a release, I may still be in the ward over two and a half years later after my initial entry. My society has such little respect for personal autonomy, that I have a genuine fear that they may start trying to obtain proof that someone is not intending to attempt suicide in the future. A lawsuit against the mental health services by a bereaved family could bring about this kind of requirement.
  2. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    My ex boyfriend was involuntarily detained in a psych ward under 24 hour(2 to 3 nurses watching him) watch reason being ''danger to society''. He was allowed out for one night in the 13th month, his then gf died that night (her death was nothing to do with him directly-she died from an overdose). He was barred from the unit completely the day of her funeral. I really don't know much more about the incident, I wasn't there the day he was barred and he was sedated, he crossed a line way too far I believe and they could not cope with him) He has many diagnosis but the main one being a psychopath. The initial reason for his detention was attacking the armed response unit. I still don't know why it was 13 months long, perhaps they thought if he did anything it was on them.

    Just in case anyone asks, no he was not violent towards me, however he was addicted to strong painkillers (but prescribed them by doctors for a legit reason (car accident-and the surgery cut the nerves too close to the spine). He was VERY possessive and controlling of literally everything, looking back I was obviously very sick to have stayed with him that long (approx 2 and a half year). The guy is a nut case and charming all in one. As far as I know he was not been in any serious trouble since.

    I felt compelled to reply to this thread because of his 13 month involuntary stay.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2014
  3. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your response. He sounds like a seriously disturbed person. Although he isn't a sympathetic figure and I don't know more about the case, I don't think that someone should be detained for that length of time unless that is their sentence for a specific crime and they are serving their time in a mental hospital in lieu of prison. It's very good that you managed to get away from him.
  4. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Quieta non movere

    12 days I think I lost count.
  5. lav11

    lav11 Well-Known Member

    ive been placed in a psych ward involuntarily a trillion times and most stays are around 3 months for my suicidal ideation/attempts and for my PTSD.
  6. I have been detained for the longest is 8 days. I really opened up about everything to my psychiatrists and the entire team who is caring for me. They allowed me to go home and told me to return if I am feeling very intensingly suicidal again. I was extremely suicidal and told them about my determination to end my life within the year and I really mean it.. And at the same time, I wanted help and I want to rest at home. due to the extreme care and concern shown by the psychiatrists towards me, I really never wanted to disappoint them. I am trying hard to be positive and am still trying. They respected my wish to be discharged and to rest at home even on involuntary admission. For this, I cannot disappoint them for their efforts and the way they respected my wishes and needs.
  7. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    That seems grossly unfair. I didn't realise how illiberal Australia was in regards to personal freedom.
  8. Jethro

    Jethro Member

    I know very little about how this works in the US. The closet I came was (foolishly) trusting a counselor on a help line, who after I hung up contacted the local police department, who showed up at my apt door at 2AM, weapons drawn. I talked my way out of it, but naturally my landlord kicked me out after that. I've wondered what would have happened had I not been able to convince the police that I was OK? If someone is committed, who pays? My health insurance is basically non-existent, with a $5k deductible. I live in a Red State, so there is very little in terms of state services. I think if I had been involuntarily committed, and then got a $10,000 hospital bill a few weeks later, that would have been very hard to accept and would probably have upset me even more!

    It's interesting to see that in countries like Ireland and Singapore, things are very different.
  9. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Quieta non movere

    Forgot about high school time was in for over 5 weeks
  10. Kiba

    Kiba Well-Known Member

    I don't entirely remember how long I was in the hospital psych wards the numerous times I've went. Few weeks? But I know my longest in care stay was 7 months. This was not really at a hospital though. This was a longer term locked down type mental health facility. I have been to 2 longer term facilities. One was 6 months. The other was 7 months. They did cause me trauma and damage. And I have my own beleifs and frusterations on how the mentally ill are treated also. I am in the USA.
  11. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    If you would have had to pay, that would be diabolical, because most people would be unable to foot the bill for a long term stay in psychiatric hospital. It would be like charging people for going to prison (which is what a psychiatric ward is, really) except the people who go to that prison are innocent So even if your life weren't as much of a wreck as you thought it were, going in, it would certainly be irrevocably devastated upon coming out. I think that I read somewhere (possibly on SF) that patients get sent to a state hospital, which provides the services free.
  12. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    I'm curious as to what you did in order to become detained for such a long spell of time (if you don't mind telling)? Was it just because you had depression and/or had threatened to commit suicide, or was there some kind of event where the police had to get involved?

    It's rather hard to have a job and a stable routine, if the authorities keep locking you up for a few weeks every time you're feeling a little blue.
  13. Jethro

    Jethro Member

    Yeah that's my thought as well. But I also think most of the state hospitals were closed in the US years ago, back in the 80s.

    Like I said, I know absolutely nothing about this stuff.
  14. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    There are still county and state hospitals in every state in the US - though the majority of the long term residential facilities were closed or changed many years ago (the psychiatric wards where they simply put people that they had no idea what to do with). Hospitals are different in that in the hospitals, even long term, the focus is on continued treatment and care as opposed to simply a place "to put" people.

    My daughter was transferred to a state long term care from a short term critical care facility (which is what most stays are - a week or less and the sole purpose is to stabilize beyond being an immediate threat to yourself or others- it is not for treatment other than possible taking a first start at starting medications if they are part of a treatment routine.Saying that that your received no treatment at the critical facility is really not saying anything- if you are alive at the end of it and did not kill yourself or anybody else in the week or two following release then it accomplished exactly what it is supposed to accomplish.

    Our insurance would not pay for long term care - which is why after discussing it with them we changed the status of the stay so that she could be disenrolled from our insurance and enrolled onto medicaid for the duration of her stay so that there would not be a bill. That is typically what happens- as soon as your insurance benefits are exhausted, you would be enrolled into Medicaid to cover the costs. This is done whether it is voluntary or involuntary, so long as is agreed that is a medical need as opposed to simply a "treatment option". This is also what protects people from being just locked away - by the "medical need" clause which comes from a committee of 3 separate Drs and if needed court appearance and court order to determine need where an individual would have themselves and a law guardian attorney to represent them and their wishes.

    So far as the basic premise of your "right" to refuse care and your "right" to not be detained or get treatment- it is a pity so many of these rights exist that result in horrible mentally ill people being left on the street to fend for themselves and literally freeze and starve to death simply because some people want to believe that mental illness is not an illness. While the OP may say they learned "I am not the owner of my life, and I can be locked up for any length of time because of my beliefs." then yes- and I am very glad such a thing exists- as it has kept hundreds of thousands of people that are happy and content with their lives today from getting drunk after breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfrind, or college students that failed a class for the first time from taking their life needlessly.

    The belief that the decision is logical and well thought out is often bandied about - and the only universal thing about it is while that person sincerely believes it at that time, 90 % of the people that read the "infallible logic" as written on here even can see many problems with the logic and the fact these people are alive and well and very often move on from here to being happy and successful , in relationships again, remarried or having gotten over the impossible issue, is ample evidence that there is in fact a real problem with the decision making process most of the time. We do not allow many types of decision making when impaired in different ways and for good reason - because the decision making is impaired.

    Being locked up for your beliefs? Drunk drivers believe they can drive fine, I could give 100 examples of "beliefs" that are crimes and with good reason, and there is no criminality even associated with mental health detention (though you may try to make a connection). While I have no idea when this happened, the fact that you did not die that night and it seems it was some time ago and you are still alive and here so there is some part of you looking for a way to get better or improve and still trying to find ways to make friends and stop the painful things implies the detention was an overall positive for both society and for you. I am glad you are still here to share your viewpoints.
  15. shadowonthewall

    shadowonthewall Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your views. I also appreciate your explanation of how the healthcare system in the US deals with mental illness. It cannot be gainsaid that there are many people still alive and happy today who might have not been here were it not for the intervention of the state. However, I don't think that any number of those cases is enough to support a blanket rule that deprives every single person of ownership of their lives. Even if 'rational suicides' constitute only a very small minority of the total (which I find doubtful). It's more important that people in crisis know where they are able to obtain help in the event that they are feeling suicidal. It's also important that they know that they are not stigmatised and not going to be locked away like a criminal as a consequence of reaching out for help. It's understandable that you do not want to hold some of the most vulnerable people in society responsible for proactively seeking help of their own volition. However, mandating government ownership of every human life just to protect a number of people who it is deemed cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. If we do not own our lives (which must include the freedom to terminate our own life), then we are slaves. Would you be averse to all people being subjected to 24/7 electronic surveillance in order to save a small minority of people from themselves? If attitudes towards personal autonomy do not change, then I fear that this is where society may end up. The technology probably already exists in order to make this feasible.

    Unlike the recklessly delusional confidence of the drunk driver, my nihilistic beliefs do not pose a threat to anybody, and therefore I should be able to hold these beliefs and follow them through to their consequences. I should be locked away if I pose an immediate threat to other people, but not if I pose a 'threat to myself'. That line needs to be taken out of all legislation. If I do not consider my own life to be sacred, why is it right for the government to force other people's religious beliefs into my life, insisting that death is the greatest possible harm? Attempted suicide actually is a crime, where I live (Scotland). It is classified as a breach of the peace offence. In my case, the attending police officers recognised that I was very lucid and had thought through my preparations very clearly. I was given the choice of either going with the police or going to a psychiatric ward. Criminals are treated more compassionately than the suicidal and the terms imposed upon them for their crimes are clearly set out at the time of sentencing, and are finite. They do not go to prison for a crime which carries a maximum sentence of a couple of weeks and end up having to stay over a year.

    My detention has not helped me, but it has made me more cautious. I have never stopped planning to end my life, but I am more aware of the risks and consequences of getting caught. What worries me is that I had to lie in order to get out. It was recognised by all of the mental health workers who interviewed me that I was suffering from no symptoms of any known mental illness. So in practice, they are keeping (some) people in their for their philosophical beliefs and not because they are mentally ill. In that sense, the psychiatric ward is also a re-education centre and I may not have ever been released had I not 'drank the Kool-Aid', so to speak.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2014
  16. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Quieta non movere

    It seems it's your country's attitude. In the US it's much better system.
  17. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    And here is the crux- by your argument it is better for thousands to die from a simple temporary mental condition caused by extreme but temporary duress rather than risk the inconvenience of a detention for a short period of time to determine if such a mental illness exists for you.

    A second note- "know help is available if they want it" as adequate for treatment or intervention - you clearly do not understand the concept of mental illness in anyway of you believe that rational choice or will power to seek help exists in somebody under such duress or mental illness to voluntarily go try to find help. I am sorry, your arguments are not sound and do not make sense as a method of handling a crisis that kills 40,000 people a year in the US. It is shallow , selfish , and self serving based on your perception that you are fully competent to decide for yourself and therefore should not risk being inconvenienced to save the lives of the tens of thousands that are not.

    This began as a thread on psychiatric hospitals however has turned to pro choice argument. This site is pro-life - and the thread is being closed.
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