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Son self-tattooed 5150

Hi All.  I'm looking for a little advice.  Last night my son tattooed "5150" on his leg.  (For those who don't know, this refers to an involuntary psych lockup.)  He is 20 years old now and the lockup in question happened three years ago; he came to me one night feeling seriously suicidal and his psychiatrist recommended he voluntarily check into a psych facility for youths.   He wanted out the next morning and we tried desperately but they wouldn't let him out for five days (don't get me started!).  He came out even angrier than when he went in.  Now he drinks too much, smokes too much and life is often a struggle.  I hate that he identifies so with the 5150 that he's branded himself with it.

Question: Should I make (to the best of my ability) him remove the tattoo? (I'll pay for it.)  He lives at home and the deal has always been he could look however he wants but can't do anything permanent to himself while he's here and on our insurance. I'm leaning toward making him get it removed...not because of the agreement, but because how can he ever hope to lead a "normal" life with that moniker on his leg?  (If you google it, a definition of criminally insane is given) I wish there was a answer book on how to help your bipolar children.  Any thoughts?  Please.

4 Responses
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Avatar universal
No matter that he has mental illness issues, he is still an adult. He made a choice an adult can make. I will share how you feel about the tattoo and offer to get it removed should he ever wish to have it done.
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Avatar universal
I would not 'make' him do anything. He got the tattoo for a reason, and until that reason ends he 'needs' it there. Forcing him to remove it may cause further destruction like moving into cutting to release those emotions. There are things worse than tattoes and it is on his leg not his face or neck. Most people are not going to know the significance of 5150. I didn't. I wouldn't force him, but I would encourage him to get tested for hepatitis depending on how clean a shop he got the tattoo from.

I would state that you love him and don't see him as a 5150, and if he ever wants the tattoo off you'll pay for it. That lets him know he is loved. The other - it is power and control and it will backfire. He's 20, gotta let him make his own bad decisions.

Wish it were easier for you. I am sorry he was in a bad psyc ward. There are good ones. Unfortunately they don't come with a rating. You did the right thing though. You couldn't have known how it turned out.
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2010625 tn?1329372056
I agree despite his mental condition he is still an adult. If you try to force him to get it removed it may make him feel as though you are treating him like a child. Which could possibly cause him to be rebellious towards you, and cause conflict with him. I think the better approach may be to suggest it and let him know if he ever wants to get it removed you will pay for it. I think in this situation it is more important to be understanding rather than demanding. Understanding someone with a mental illness can be one of the best medicines and comforts for them. Demands are more like a poison for people with mental illnesses for the stress that it can cause may be more than they can handle.
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Avatar universal
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.  Of course, I know you are all right and I followed your advice.  I appreciate your support:)
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