The above question is commonly raised by families seeking treatment chemical restraint and/or incarceration in a psychiatric facility for someone they love want to scapegoat, silence, control, publicly discredit, hide or get out of the way. Unfortunately, the reality of treatment in the United States, is that unless you are the sister of E. Fuller Torrey, care too institutionalization and loss of freedom often only comes once they’ve committed a crime or unless you really know how to work the system to your advantage.
A recent study in the Journal of Psychiatric Services , looked at demographic characteristics, diagnoses, psychiatric, legal histories, and current psychiatric condition and treatment from jail psychiatric records of a random sample of 104 male inmates with mental illness and from electronic county mental health records and state records of criminal histories of individuals in a large urban county jail and what psychiatric services they received while incarcerated. Their conclusion? One that is not at all surprising – a large percentage of persons with a severe mental illness who are in jail receive their acute inpatient treatment in the criminal justice system rather than in the mental health system.
The study’s specifics are sadly familiar: 75% of the random sample were diagnosed as having a severe mental illness; 76% of the sample were known to have a history of substance abuse. Substance abuse, which often leads to behavioral disinhibition and poor judgment, would certainly play a role in the fact that 72% had previous arrests for violent crimes against persons.
So, to answer the original question, “How can I get my pain in the ass family member committed? we have the full moral integrity and loving care of DJ Jaffe of NAMI and the Forced Treatment Advocacy Center at our disposal:
“Sometime, during the course of your loved one’s illness, you may need the police. By preparing now, before you need help, you can make the day you need help go much more smoothly. . .It is often difficult to get 911 to respond to your calls if you need someone to come & take your [mentally ill] relation to a hospital emergency room (ER). They may not believe that you really need help. And if they do send the police, the police are often reluctant to take someone for involuntary commitment.
When calling 911, the best way to get quick action is to say, “Violent EDP,” or “Suicidal EDP.” EDP stands for Emotionally Disturbed Person. This shows the operator that you know what you’re talking about. Describe the danger very specifically. “He’s a danger to himself” is not as good as “This morning my son said he was going to jump off the roof.”
Also, give past history of violence. This is especially important if the person is not acting up. When the police come, they need compelling evidence that the person is a danger to self or others before they can involuntarily take him or her to the ER for evaluation.
Realize that you & the cops are at cross purposes. You want them to take someone to the hospital. They don’t want to do it. Say, “Officer, I understand your reluctance. Let me spell out for you the problems & the danger.
While AMI/FAMI [Alliance for the Mentally Ill/Friends and Advocates of the Mentally Ill] is not suggesting you do this, the fact is that some families have learned to “turn over the furniture” before calling the police…If the police see furniture disturbed, they will usually conclude that the person is imminently dangerous.”