Psychiatric “Holds” Rise; Can Help Head Off Violence


Lanny Stoinoff – 15 days before he allegedly killed his baby niece – was put into a 72-hour psychiatric hold at Cincinnati’s University Hospital for examination and spent about seven days under supervision, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. These emergency holds, almost all of which are done against the individual’s wishes as involuntary actions, can prevent crisis situations from leading to injury or death; give the mentally ill individual a chance to moderate behavior, possibly by taking medication that they had stopped; and allow the mentally ill person who also is an alcoholic or drug addict to come down off a binge or high.

The holds can also provide family members time to make hard decisions and doctor a chance to add, subtract or adjust medication cocktails. Psychiatric holds are common and are on the rise nationally and regionally. Police brought 2,700 people – 50 people a week on average – to University Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services department in fiscal year 2011. That number is up 17 percent from 2,300 and 2,200 holds the previous two years. A major reason for the increase is the poor economy, mental health experts say. Unemployment, underemployment, and the reduction in benefits or loss altogether of health insurance make daily life more stressful.

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