Asked in Civil Rights for North Dakota

Q: In what states can a suicidal person be involuntarily committed, and for how long?

I'm having an argument with my medical doctor cousin over whether involuntary commitment helps suicidal people in the long run.

Say a suicidal person is committed, and they are evaluated and counseled. Perfect awareness, mental acuity, calm and rational vs having some kind of breakdown, but they are dead set on killing themselves if and when they are ever released. How long can such an individual be held against their will?

EDIT: I should add that in this hypothetical, they have shown no intention of harming anyone but themselves.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Lucas Wynne
Lucas Wynne
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Duluth, MN
  • Licensed in North Dakota

A: In North Dakota, 90 days initially. After that, a judge may issue an order for involuntary treatment for up to one year at a time. Treatment can be indefinite as long as the committed individual is given the right to periodic review and petition to discharge. Other rules apply. I am unsure how many lawyers practice in the area of disability law other than myself in North Dakota - I imagine it is not many.

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