Can a person check into a mental hospital and refuse to check out?

Having had a recent run-in with the cuckoo’s nest, I was wondering if I could claim I was suicidal to get in and then simply refuse to leave. It would mean free food, shelter and drugs for the rest of my life.

How could they get me to leave if I threatened to kill myself as soon as I got out?

Presumably the doctors would be able to tell if you were faking or not. Convicted killers sometimes try to appear ‘crazy’ in order to get sent to a mental hospital as opposed to prison.

What makes you think living in a mental hospital would be a nice place for someone to live? Have you ever seen a mental hospital?

Careful. You might fake being crazy, and then be unable to get yourself out. Ever.

They would hand you over to the cops, who would let you at skid row. This is what is done here, and while it’s considered a scandal by some, it’s an ongoing process. Many homeless want free room and board and if acting suicidal were all it took they would all be inside at night.

It’s not a hotel room. Mental hospitals are de facto prisons, and as DolphinBoy says. it’s not a pleasant environment. You’d be surrounded by people who were dangerously delusional. Nobody would want to be there.

Besides, hospitilzation for suicidal patients is merely crisis intervention. The goal is to stabilize you then discharge you, typically within 5-7 days, and referred for outpatient treatment. Threatening suicide wouldn’t get you a lifetime commitment.

Don’t be so sure:

http://psychrights.org/articles/rosenham.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

Yes. She had a thread about it and she stated it in this thread.

At the risk of derailing the thread, I’d like to point out that not every mental illness makes its suffer is delusional. There are plenty of other symptoms that prevent the suffer from functioning to an acceptable degree and would thus necessitate institutionalisation.

I’m aware of that and didn’t mean to imply that all people who were institutionalized were dangerous. I simply wanted to point out that there likely would be other patients who presented a danger to others, and that this was a reason to avoid unneccesarily committing yourself.

Yep, in Pittsburgh there was just an instance where a man, hospitalized with depression, was attacked by another patient.
http://kdka.com/local/Richard.Kelleher.UPMC.2.1159861.html

But that’s so unusual that it makes the newspaper. And the incident is still “alleged.”

The hospitals that I’ve “sampled” usually keep the patients who are aggressive separated from the non-violent patients. The aggressive patients are much more restricted.

Sometimes these things are not true at all. Mental hospitals can vary quite a bit – especially the private ones. It’s more likely that you will be surrounded by people who are very much like yourself. You would not believe how incredibly close you can become to people when you live with them for what may be weeks – and you have absolutely nothing left to hide.

Some people might see it as a “prison.” And certainly people on the outside would see it that way. But a lot of us on the inside know that those locking doors keep other people out and we are safe from them.

We are safe from ourselves also. In a really good hospital, you would have to be really clever to come up with a way to hurt yourself. Just about everything has been anticipated and if you are on suicide watch, there is someone with you even in the shower.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the hospital. (I have chronic low grade depression with episodes of more problematic depression.) O.J. was in a Ford Bronco while I was there last. Medication usually works for me. In the early days of the 1960s, I had electric shock therapy. (That was the bad news.) The good news was that they brought me breakfast in bed every morning – whatever I wanted – with a newspaper. I don’t remember too much about the place.

Leaving the hospital can actually be a little scarey. The hospital has become a sort of cocoon from which the patient must emerge.