ONTD Political

Parents of man accused of planning shooting call for changes in mental health system

10:09 pm - 12/25/2012
Parents of man accused of planning shooting call for changes in mental health system

Bill and Tricia Lammers sat in the lobby of Citizens Memorial Hospital on Friday, a week after 20 children and six adults were killed at a Connecticut elementary school. Outside, the flag flew at half staff.

The couple has been here before. They have waited for hours as hospital staffers called institutions around the state, trying to find one that had an open bed for their mentally ill son, Blaec, 20. They have waited time and again, five times here and twice in other hospitals, long before November when their son was arrested.

The arrest came after Tricia Lammers told authorities Blaec bought an AR-15 and another semi-automatic from the Bolivar Walmart, the same store where he was found three years ago carrying a butcher knife and a Halloween mask with plans to kill a clerk.

His plans this time, authorities say, were to shoot up a movie theater showing the latest “Twilight” movie. Blaec Lammers is facing felony charges of first-degree assault, making a terrorist threat and armed criminal action. Since then, Tricia Lammers has received phone calls from people who say she’s heroic.

“I’m not a hero,” Tricia Lammers said. “With the events that happened last Friday my heart tells me I did the right thing.

“Our city could be in the news.”

Bill and Tricia Lammers miss their son. He has been at the Polk County Jail for more a month now. They can only see him on Sundays. For 30 minutes. They can’t touch him. He is behind shatterproof glass, and they can only talk to him on the phone in the visiting room. They mourn him as if — in a way — he is dead to them.

“I’m a mom,” Tricia Lammers said. “It’s the holidays. I don’t have my child.”

The couple moved to Bolivar with their two children in 2009. He was the radiology director at Citizens Memorial before becoming a consultant. She is a patient liaison at the hospital. They love the city of 10,300 and hope to retire here. They sat in the hospital lobby Friday to talk with a reporter in hopes that people will better understand the challenges of mental illness.

The couple say their son has always been different. He was diagnosed with dyslexia soon after first grade. He was quiet and shy. Other children picked on him. He lettered in academics his freshman year of high school in Omaha. Two years later, he was expelled after saying he wanted to harm a teacher. He has homemade tattoos on his arms, belly and legs.

The couple has tried repeatedly to get help for their son. Over the years, he has received different diagnoses including Asperger’s and anti-social personality disorder. They’ve spent perhaps as much as $30,000 on repeated hospitalizations and medications. There is still a balance of about $9,300 from their son’s last stay at Lakeland Behavioral Health System, a psychiatric hospital for children in Springfield. They say the mental health system has failed them and their son.

“The system is broken,” Bill Lammers said. “The mental health system. There’s no place to turn to. You take them to a hospital, and 96 hours later they’re home. Maybe on Prozac, but they’re not fixed.”

They don’t believe in more restrictions on guns.

“I have guns, but they’re locked in a safe,” Bill Lammers said
. “There’s no way I would leave anything out.”

The couple say it’s too easy to get released from hospitals and other places for the mentally ill.

“In a perfect world, mental institutions would open back up,” Tricia Lammers said. “You could take an individual there and train them to take care of themselves.”

The couple has not put up a Christmas tree this year. One of their family traditions is the Christmas pickle. Each year, they would hang an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree. The child who found it received a prize. This year, there is no one to search for the Christmas pickle.

But Bill and Tricia Lammers don’t think their son should be released. They hope he is sent to a mental institution that is able to help him.

“I think they should keep him until he is fit to be a part of society, and that may be a long, long time,” Bill Lammers said.

Bill Lammers learned about the shooting in Connecticut in a call from his wife. He turned on the TV.

“You think, thank God it’s not Blaec,” Bill Lammers said. “I thank God we got lucky.”

“Everybody in our community got lucky because he wasn’t able to do anything.”

chaya 26th-Dec-2012 04:31 am (UTC)
The couple say their son has always been different. He was diagnosed with dyslexia soon after first grade.

Is he also left-handed? Because that is equally as relevant.

They don’t believe in more restrictions on guns.

“I have guns, but they’re locked in a safe,” Bill Lammers said. “There’s no way I would leave anything out.”

But... earlier in the article we learned that your son can buy his own. And did. From a store where he planned to harm someone with a knife. So...?

(All that said, these parents did something incredibly hard and are right about the need for better solutions for people with ongoing mental illnesses.)
perthro 26th-Dec-2012 04:45 am (UTC)
MTE. A reading disorder does not a sociopath make. And most people who get guns pass psych evals easily- especially sociopaths because they know all the answers to give. Mentally ill =/= stupid. In fact, it's usually the opposite. People with schizophrenia tend to be geniuses! But something breaks down in the mind, and that can't always be fixed. That's why we need mental health care so badly: to catch this stuff early.

There will be challenges. There's already questionable bias in our psych field, especially when drug companies get involved. Invent a pill for one thing that ends up doing another? How do we sell this thing? Oh! Invent an illness that just so happens to be cured by it! No big deal. Same thing with our regular medical industry. But in the end, I think the benefits might outweigh the costs, if it's done *right*.
strwbrri_shrtck 26th-Dec-2012 04:46 am (UTC)
A coworker's husband was put into a mental hospital the night that he threatened to kill her. He was released two days later for "good behavior". This is not freaking ok. Things need to change.
roseofjuly 26th-Dec-2012 06:08 am (UTC)
Legally, mental hospitals cannot involuntarily hold people for longer than 72 hours. This is to protect the patient, more than anything - the majority of mentally ill people are not violent but are at high risk for being mistreated, often by their own family members. Any person's threat to kill someone else should be handled by the police, and if that person is mentally ill it should be team-handled by the police and healthcare personnel. But the problem is not that mental hospitals are unwilling to hold the very small number of potentially violent people who also have a mental disorder.
wikilobbying 26th-Dec-2012 05:22 am (UTC)
some of this really bothers me, like how they talk about mental illness. the mental health system needs plenty of overhauling, but so does our perception of people with mental illnesses.

there are so many problems going on here. what, lammers carries a butcher knife into a walmart and tells police he was going to kill a clerk there, and then that same walmart allows him to purchase assault weapons? i mean, hello you might want to have a problem like that on a record somewhere so it can raise a little red flag before the receipt gets printed out. just a suggestion.
roseofjuly 26th-Dec-2012 06:21 am (UTC)
This is the main problem. I mean, at this point we know very little about Adam Lanza. He left nothing behind indicating why he would do this, and his mom is dead. The only quotes about him that we're hearing are by people who weren't close to him or don't know much about him. Most of what has been said are the observation of personality traits. A sophomore psychology major could tell you that people's recollection of facts is colored by their present experiences and others' opinions. The young man just shot up an entire school, so of course people are going to remember the time he had to pee really bad at the end of 5th period English and describe him as "nervous and fidgety," or the time he was upset because a girl he had a crush on started dating someone else and describe him as "emotionally withdrawn." (I'm just making things up for example.)

Pretty much everyone who has said that he has a disability has been speculating, I think perhaps with the exception of the information that he may have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. And even then, that is still just students recalling that they had been told he had Asperger's syndrome. By who, it's not revealed. Or even when or in what context. Like

One former classmate who said he was familiar with the disorder described Mr. Lanza as having a “very flat affect,” adding, “If you looked at him, you couldn’t see any emotions going through his head.”

This is a great example of confirmation bias. You know the young man killed 27 people, and that people are murmuring about him having Asperger's. You're a classmate of his, desperate to help the local police make sense of why he would do such a thing - and to be of some help to the journalist standing in front of you. Even unconsciously, your brain is starting to match the things you've observed about Lanza's behavior to what you know about Asperger's (since that's what they're saying he has!) and to sort out the things that don't match. It's natural human behavior. And what does "familiar with the disorder" mean? I know a lot of college juniors who would say they were "familiar" with schizophrenia because they took abnormal psychology.

I have rambled way off my point, but what it was is - people have such odd and inaccurate perceptions of mental illness and there's just a bunch of bullshit thrown in everywhere. Something like Asperger's gets confused with antisocial personality disorder, or people see a few sociopath movies and assume that everyone with any kind of mental disorder is dangerous. The most insulting thing is probably that when this national conversation happens after a school shooting, everyone turns to the mental health system and how it sucks. But nothing is ever done, and the insinuation seems to be that people with mental disorders are dangerous and need to be locked away from the "rest of us", not that they are people who are sick and need help.
zharia 26th-Dec-2012 07:19 am (UTC)
This article is about as stupid as the "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" and "I am Adam Lanza" articles.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 08:29 am (UTC)
So wait, the son has been in jail for a month and we're only hearing about it now? Oh wait, of course we are.

This is some bullshit. And his learning disability is totally irrelevant.
tnganon 26th-Dec-2012 09:05 am (UTC)
i'm not up to reading the article rn but before people comment i think this it's relevant to remember that of the 62 mass shootings in the us since 1982, 61 were men and 44 were white men.

the_physicist 26th-Dec-2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Are those figures on race correct? That would make 70% of the mass shooters white. Google tells me 75% of US American population is white.

The issue of them all being men is a conversation no one wants to have in the media apparently. Totally hear you on that one. -_- It's the clearest statistic there is, clearer than any correlation with any of the factors the media talks about, yet it's the one thing I've not seen mentioned once on US news websites. The news channels here say the US is discussing guns and not giving guns to mentally ill people. Here's a thought: don't give them to men.
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:33 am (UTC)
Hey everybody! Want to have an interesting, relevant conversation about mental health in America right now? One interesting jumping-off point might be the conversation in the comments to this NYT blog post from mental health providers about why they don't accept insurance. I left a comment there myself about my own experiences as a patient navigating the wild and wonderful world of cash-only psychiatric care. Everything about mental health insurance is borked; we're still receiving bills from my hospital stays from fourteen months ago...! Getting prior approval for ANYTHING is also obscenely difficult.

Here's a good blog post from the excellent Shrink Rap about why most people with mental illness aren't violent (we don't usually have all of the risk factors).

Another post from Shrink Rap that's really worth reading: Please Don't Make Assumptions.
kagehikario 26th-Dec-2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
“In a perfect world, mental institutions would open back up,”

Aaaaaaaaand I'm done listening to you.

Real problem, stop derailing with it :/
angelofdeath275 26th-Dec-2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
I'm fucking tired of talking about mental illness every time some white kid shoots up a place.
teacup_werewolf 26th-Dec-2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
I am sick and fucking tired of people discussing MI and DD like it's some sort of cancerous epidemic JFC
hellaine 26th-Dec-2012 02:43 pm (UTC)
Ah man I have some feels about this, some which might not be appropriate I guess, so I'm open to being told that. I should pre-empt this by saying I have BorderlinePD so if I'm vehement about the subject, it's because it's close to me. But I'm almost annoyed that this is being directed on to Mental Health Problems. Obvs mental health access needs A LOT OF HELP in this country, most of us with mental health issues and the ones around us who take care of us or know us all know that. And more people do need to know that! I'm not knocking that! And I guess in a way, if this bring some change to that, which I'll be surprised about, then that's all well.

But I guess I feel like 1) it's being directed onto mental health as a way to get away from the other issues, ie., guns, why it's males mainly doing this shit, etc, etc, Not saying mental health isn't a facet, but it's almost being used as a target or strawman? I mean a lot of people didn't give a shit about mental healthcare access when those of us with an issue are struggling to survive or just live our life in pain, but now that it intrudes onto everyone and makes everyones life miserable, it's an issue. Like, it should have ALWAYS been an issue, because we care about people, not because suddenly the mentally ill are getting spunky.

So we become charity cases for people who want to white knight and Find A Solution, generally so they can feel better about themselves, or we're someone who needs to go on a National Database Of Who Can't Own Guns even thought in reality we are more likely to be victims of some form of abuse that perpetrate this shit.

IDK, long winded rant is long winded and none of this is intended as offensive so hit me with the clue hammer if it is. I just have weird feels now that The Battle For/Against Mental Health is all the rage.
hellaine 26th-Dec-2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
Okay well a bunch of people articulated how I feel but much better than I did here, so I don't feel AS bad now haha.
shoujokakumei 26th-Dec-2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, we need better mental health care in the USA.

We also need less fucking guns, because I could be batshit fucking nuts, but I still can't kill anyone by standing in the street and yelling BANG BANG BANG at people.

Edited at 2012-12-26 03:12 pm (UTC)
poetic_pixie_13 26th-Dec-2012 06:02 pm (UTC)
Why don't we write articles about and listen to the voices of, idk, actual folks with mental illnesses cause we can advocate for ourselves and are actual human beings with thoughts and hopes and all that other shit and not incompetent crazies who need to be locked up.
the_physicist 26th-Dec-2012 11:11 pm (UTC)
Never even considered my dislexia might be a sign of something bad... completely agree with you. We can speak too. But talking about the crap care for MIs gets you ignored if you are "too close to the issue" (being a parent of someone with an MI is far away enough I guess). I feel for the parents, and better mental health care is needed all over his planet, it definitely seems it is needed in the US. But surely thes issues the parents raise go beyond "lock up the mentally ill!" >_>

There's a guy who threatened to kill someone who was allowed to buy guns at the same shop. The justice system didn't work on a "try to prevent crime" basis by actually dealing with the guy and making sure he wouldn't try to kill someone in the future... in that guys case that could have meant MI treatment, but this coukd have happened to someone without an MI too. I find it hard to believe all gun violence in the US is carried out my the mentally ill.
bettalaylow Whats pissing me off 26th-Dec-2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
about all these mental illness discussions. Is that I feel many times it turns into mental illness = violent person. Maybe I'll get a lot of shit for saying this but I think mental illness has become the convenient excuse when someone who was such a quiet good boy i.e. White commits a heinous act. Where was all this concern for mental illness when our inner cities are suffering epidemic of violence.
angelofdeath275 26th-Dec-2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
harumi 26th-Dec-2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
This couple can fuck right off too. Both them and Adam Lanza's "mother" can take a walk right off the cliff into an eternal pile of legos.
metatrix 26th-Dec-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the reason they're not keeping this guy in a psychiatric facility is because he has ASPD. You can't treat ASPD the way you can treat a traditional mental health disorder. It's not even viewed as a mental health disorder by most psychiatrists. You don't put people with ASPD in the hospital because 1)there is no point and 2)they are a danger to the inpatients. They belong in jail, not in hospital.

Their son is not a mentally ill person who needs help. He's just an asshole without empathy. There's no way to rehabilitate that.
bestdaywelived 27th-Dec-2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
Um, actually, personality disorders *are* mental illness.
cellared 26th-Dec-2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
They don’t believe in more restrictions on guns.

The couple say it’s too easy to get released from hospitals and other places for the mentally ill.


eta: this is minor in the rich soup of Things That Are Wrong in this article, but "places for the mentally ill"? places for the mentally ill are the same places all people should have access to. you know like schools and universities, hospitals with informed and compassionate care, homes with heat and light and water, and public office.

Edited at 2012-12-26 07:25 pm (UTC)
tamingheadfauna 28th-Dec-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
Actually, these sorts of places do exist, but they are out of reach for most Americans and usually a stay there is only temporary.

[TW: Abuse and Domestic Violence]

I left my abusive ex-partner a little over a year ago and I'm very lucky for the following reasons:
-- I left before my life was going to end
-- I had excellent employer-based health insurance coverage under my ex-partner
-- I live in an area where there are *two* research and teaching hospitals
-- My therapist at the time had clout and privileges at one of them (the one I went to)
-- I had prior experience dealing with insurance companies, the law, and advocating for myself with regard to other chronic illnesses I have to deal with
-- I have race and class privilege (:/)
-- There is a non-profit health group who has residential treatment and supportive housing programs for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues in the area
-- Thanks to the vigorous efforts of one of the directors and my social worker, they forced my insurance company to pay for my stay. If this hadn't happened, the cost would have been out of reach for me
-- I was "obsessed" with ensuring I had some kind of continuity of care once I was finished with the program

On the one hand, I received some awesome and compassionate care, while I was getting back on my feet, learning some new tools, learning some new life skills, and going through a ton of medication changes until the right combination was found. On the other hand, my case managers, the folks who checked in on us, and my therapists there were stretched and doing the best they could with the meager resources they were receiving from the state, the federal government, the insurance companies, and via donations.

But I did see, as lucky as I was, there were just some things they couldn't cover. Some people could live more independently than others, and those that really needed something between residential treatment and the hospital or residential treatment and supportive housing, really had no place to go. So again, they were "discharged" from the program, only to come back weeks or months later after they had another acute phase. Or they weren't sleeping. Or they weren't eating. Or they forgot to take their medications. Or they had difficulty managing the day-to-day things most folks take for granted when they are able to live on their own or with another person.

It's tragic. I met so many awesome people, who just wanted to maintain and to be left alone to live their lives however they could. And yet, how can any of us who deal with MI find equilibrium when the boat is always shifting and the weather is unpredictable, and the shore is so far away?

For me, personally, the entire experience was an eye-opener. But most of all, I sure did see the "good crazy/bad crazy" shit going on, even among ourselves. Nevermind, that none of us are monsters; we're just people dealing with the monsters inside our heads.


Yes, better, more compassionate MI care should be within the reaches of every American (and everyone, period). But honestly, it feels as though the whole MI discussion surrounding Sandy Hook is just a big Red Herring and a distraction from the intersection of gun control, racism, classism, ableism, grief, and trying to understand and explain (but not explain away) the evil that some people do because they just don't give a fuck..
momentsplinter 26th-Dec-2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
i hate that people think mental health reform is needed because it will save the lives of all the poor innocent people who would otherwise have been murdered by crazies. a decent mental healthcare system would save lives, but most of those lives would be the lives of mentally ill people who would have died without treatment. apparently they aren't important enough to talk about, though.

it's just so obvious that most of the people talking about this don't really give a shit, because they didn't start caring about fixing mental healthcare until the issue started affecting people who aren't actually mentally ill.
lux_roark 27th-Dec-2012 12:53 am (UTC)
So I'd be better locked up when I'm more of a danger to myself than to other people? That's nice. How about my insurance stop denying my anti-psychotics and antidepressants and then I probably wouldn't be a danger to myself. Oh wait, then that would mean mental health reform which would mean more monies.
metatrix 27th-Dec-2012 03:02 am (UTC)
how does your insurance deny you your antipsychotics and antidepressants? I live in Canada, so I guess our private insurance works differently. I've been prescribed 523424 different antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, and anticonvulsants over the years. Right now I'm on one of each (actually two stimulants) plus prescription iron supplements and a daily low dose antibiotic. My meds cost over $1000 per month, put I pay zero. I've never had a medication denied by my insurance plan, and I have 3 plans (one through my mom, one through my dad, one through school).

I hear a lot about American's insurance plan denying coverage for drugs. How does that work, exactly? Like, what basis do they deny it on? I don't understand. My plans just automatically pay for anything I bring a prescription in for (they pay automatically at the pharmacy, I don't have to send it in). I've never needed to explain to my insurance plan why I'm taking a certain drug. How does it work in the States?
climbatize 27th-Dec-2012 05:58 am (UTC)
Ugh, fuck this noise. This guy definitely needs professional help, but he shouldn't be locked up forever to prevent gun violence. We don't still live in the age of insane asylums. The way to prevent gun violence is to make it hard for violent people to get guns.

I have bipolar disorder and may have borderline personality disorder. Already, people with these and other diagnoses are seen as crazy and violent. THIS DISCOURSE IS NOT HELPING.

I'm a pacifist and I don't even kill bugs. During my first stay at a mental hospital, I met the nicest, most docile man who also happened to be schizophrenic. There is no connection here. But nobody is ever going to learn this if we keep linking mental illness with gun violence.
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