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.