This was brought to my attention by fellow blogger My Bipolar Life the blog. Thank you for speaking up!
He said it better than anyone else, so here’s the snippet with my comments at the bottom:
This is a story that should rage everyone in the mental health community. There is an energy drink in the Northern California area called 51FIFTY. For those who might not know, a 5150 is a legal order that commits a person to the psychiatric ward because they are a danger to themselves or others. Before you question whether or not it’s just a terrible coincidence, it’s not. The CEO and founder named the drink 51FIFTY with the psychiatric committal order in mind.
I’m not easily offended but this extremely offended me and quite enraged me. One of the times I went into a psychiatric hospital was a 5150 order. So someone making light of it to sell energy drinks is infuriating. The CEO and founder said that the name stems from his racing days when people would say he was crazy for racing with as little experience as he had. Not only did he embrace the derogatory use of “crazy,” he embraced it so much that he choose another term to use just as flippantly.
Further, using 5150 for marketing diminishes its seriousness. In my case, 5150 meant I was a danger to myself; simply put I was at risk of killing myself. To put in perspective, I was admitted twice for suicidal ideation however, I was 5150ed because I almost drove my car into a wall on purpose. For many people, a 5150 means that they’re suicidal and if they’re not, they’re at risk of harming someone else. I do not appreciate that a term that so closely aligns with a chance of death and violence is used to sell something.
The owner stated that he wouldn’t change the name because that is not what 51FITY is about. Instead, he said it’s about “never giving up.” The CEO clearly has no clue about the mental state of many people who are 5150ed. I don’t want sound crude, but people 5150ed have given up, they’ve given up on life, and it’s not like the stay in a psychiatric facility ordered by the 5150 is long term care. It’s for 3-days where the staff make sure you don’t have the means to harm yourself and they give you a month of medication when you leave with the hopes that you see a psychiatrist to monitor your levels. The owner of the drink makes it sound like when people leave they’re like a phoenix rising from the ashes when in reality it’s just a facility to keep people safe. When I got out all three times I was just as depressed and I still felt worthless and hopeless. I was no phoenix and I continued to give up because I was admitted three times.
Luckily there are some people in the distribution area fighting back but when one person did, the owner served her with a cease and desist order claiming defamation. There are also members of the Fresno chapter of NAMI speaking out, let’s see how long before they are served. Also, a supermarket has discounted carrying the product despite high sales.
I urge you all to take action now:
- Sign this petition on change.org
- Yell it to the world via Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, etc.
- Contact the company and demand that they change their name
I’m the last one to complain about certain products, but this really isn’t about the name they want to use in itself, but more in the details of what that name actually means. They even have the nerve to use Autism as a means of selling the product. They don’t see the whole picture of what it means to be hospitalized.
Note: different states have different ways of saying “5150”. For example: Florida has the Baker Act. Here in Illinois, if you are over the age of 18, there is a process which includes petitions. If a psychiatrist issues a certificate, you could be in there from 90-180 days.
For people who are hospitalized, it’s not funny. When I was about 15-16, I was hospitalized for the first time against my will.
I understand there is a difference between being underage and of age and being put into a facility, but the feeling is the exact same.
I wasn’t threatening to hurt anyone with a weapon; I was saying “I want to die” and was cutting myself. They treated me like I was an inmate and not like a patient who genuinely needed help. It was 90% “just knock it off” speeches and little treatment (pills only). I’d like like to point out that I wasn’t wanting treatment: I had no idea how to manage my feelings and I seriously wanted help. Total, I was there 6 days.
If I didn’t tell someone I was cutting, they wouldn’t have known. I knew it was wrong and so desperately wanted help, but the way I was treated actually set me far back in my treatment. It wasn’t until I was 23 and went in for help by myself that I actually GOT help.
When I went in voluntarily at 23, the experience was night and day. THAT was the shining moment I got the help I needed. THAT started proper therapy and medication treatment.
So, 50FIFTY, you need to rectify this. You now have a sense of what it’s like for those who are “5050’ed”. Grow a set and get on it. NOW.