In case anyone has any concerns that when Hyo Jin Moon was an adult, his most violent and self-destructive period, he could have simply refused to enter a psychiatric institution due to his age. Involuntary admission into a mental hospital in New York State could still have taken place in one of three ways (below), apart from his personal permission. Had his family shown the required love and understanding, they could have easily found out that:
1. Medical certification, which requires that two physicians examine a person and certify that he or she needs involuntary care and treatment in a psychiatric facility. This certification must be accompanied by an application for admission, made by someone familiar with the individual (for example, a legal guardian, custodian, next of kin, treating psychiatrist or someone who lives with the person) or by one of a number of government officials.
If you are involuntarily admitted on a medical certificate, or converted to that status, you may be kept in a psychiatric center for up to 60 days. If you - or a relative, friend or the Mental Hygiene Legal Service - believe that you do not need to be involuntarily hospitalized you or any of the others may apply for a court hearing on this matter.
At the end of this 60 days, and periodically after that, the psychiatric center director must apply to a judge for authorization to retain you as an involuntary status patient. You must be notified when such an application is made, and you have the right to object and to be represented by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service or your own attorney at the hearing.
2. Certification by a director of community services, or an examining physician designated by the director of community services.
This certificate states that the person has a mental illness that is likely to result in serious harm to self or others and for which immediate inpatient care and treatment is appropriate.
If you are admitted in this way, you must be examined within 72 hours by a staff psychiatrist. If the psychiatrist confirms that you meet the requirements for involuntary admission based on medical certification, you may be kept in the psychiatric center for up to 60 days. The procedure for involuntary retention beyond 60 days, and the patient’s right to a hearing, are the same as outlined in Section 1, of the New York State Mental Health Code.
3. Emergency admission based on the claim that the person has a mental illness that is likely to result in serious harm to self or others and for which immediate observation, care and treatment in a psychiatric center is appropriate.
If you are admitted in this way, you must be examined within 48 hours by a staff psychiatrist. If he or she confirms that you meet the requirements for emergency admission, you may be kept in the psychiatric center for up to 15 days. For you to be kept involuntarily beyond 15 days, you must meet the requirements for, and be converted to, an involuntary admission based on medical certification.
* If any of the above three methods of committing Hyo Jin Nim had been deployed, we might still have him with us today, and probably in far better spirits as well.