The Day I Was Taken Away in Handcuffs for Being Suicidal


How do I put into words the humility I felt when I was taken away in handcuffs? No, I didn’t break the law. Yet, I walked through a room full of people with my hands behind my back with an officer holding my arm.

I was at one of my lowest points. I told my psychiatrist I was contemplating suicide. I could not reassure her I wouldn’t do it. Without any further discussion, she steps out of the room momentarily. She returns and tells me I am being involuntarily admitted to the hospital and tells me to wait in the lobby for someone else to talk to me. Panic starts to set in as I wait. The other person comes and takes me in her office and asks me if I have ever been admitted before. I answer yes. I have gone to the emergency room and have been transferred to a psychiatric hospital on more than one occasion, but this is the first time it was involuntary. I am ushered back to the lobby and told to wait again. I assumed she was coming back.

After waiting for what felt like hours, someone did come. An officer calling me by my full name. My heart sank. The officer took me to the side and told me to put my hands behind my back and she tightly cuffed my wrists. She asked if I had any weapons and proceeded to pat me down and survey my pockets. I was terrified. I have never been arrested. What did I do? I can feel people staring and whispering as I am escorted through the lobby to the patrol car. I wanted to cry but felt like I needed to appear strong. No one prepared me for this. Not once did anyone say I was going to be taken away like a criminal. I was devastated and embarrassed.

I told my psychiatrist my thoughts out of desperation that day. Desperate for help. Desperate for another solution to all my pain and suffering. I needed compassion and understanding. I was not a threat to anyone but myself. I experienced that day something I thought I never would as a law abiding citizen. My mental illness was treated like a crime and something to be embarrassed of. It took me awhile to have trust again in the system.

Despite the horrible way I got there, I am thankful I made it to a hospital that day. But, there has to be a better way of helping us in need when we are not able to help ourselves. Whether it is transportation via ambulance or simply taking the time to explain what exactly will happen, anything could have been better than that. My hope is that by sharing my experience, it will serve as the “heads up, this might happen” that I never got.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via fotoember


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