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.”

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.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 08:22 am (UTC)
Legally, mental hospitals cannot involuntarily hold people for longer than 72 hours.

That's incorrect, they can put you on a 5250 (at least here in California) which is 14 days.
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:12 am (UTC)
Without going before a judge? I was under the impression that the 72 hour hold was the maximum that a doctor could sign off on without a hearing.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:13 am (UTC)
When I was on my 5150, the people on a 5250 had not seen a judge, but I don't know if their cases had been brought before a judge without them in attendance.

(my 5150 was some shit though, i was put on one despite entering myself into the hospital voluntarily)

Edited at 2012-12-26 09:14 am (UTC)
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:36 am (UTC)
That's been my experience too - you sign yourself in of your own volition, but once they lock the doors behind you, you're there till the psychiatrist says you're free to go. It's completely idiosyncratic to the institution how long you're held, too.
encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:37 am (UTC)
Plus, once your 72 hours are up-well, about 12 hours before that they spring it on you they want to keep you a few days longer, if you disagree its 5250 time, if you agree they let you go at 84-96 hours. Fucking ridiculous.
maenads_dance 26th-Dec-2012 09:49 am (UTC)
Back during my more... rebellious days prior to receiving an appropriate diagnosis, I remember having a long argument with the psychiatric resident I'd been assigned to about whether she was in a position of institutional power over me. I was a total ass, but also completely unwilling to work with someone so in denial that she wouldn't even admit that it made a difference that she could walk out the door any time, whereas I'd be tackled by psychiatric aides if I tried to do the same thing.

encircleme 26th-Dec-2012 09:52 am (UTC)
You're my hero.

My story is much less interesting, bad break up + miscarriage hormone wackiness = 140k in medical bills thank fuck I had insurance then.
redstar826 26th-Dec-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
I was pretty much told by a social worker to sign myself in, and they would let me go after a few days, but if a judge decided, it would likely be for at least 14 days. So, I signed myself in, and was let out pretty quickly (I went in on a Friday evening and was released sometime Sunday morning). But it was totally at the discretion of the psychiatrist. I told them what I knew they wanted to hear so they would let me out ASAP.
bettalaylow 26th-Dec-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
It varies from state to state additionally if I'm admitted to a mental hospital for threatening to harm myself or someone else if I've been stabilized with medication and I'm no longer threatening I'll be held no longer than 72 hrs sometimes even less. I say this as someone who works with mental health facilities and patients.
roseofjuly 26th-Dec-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
That's part of the CA Welfare Code, which doesn't apply to the entire country. In most places a 72 hour hold is all you can get without seeing a judge.

Edited at 2012-12-27 03:30 pm (UTC)
moonshaz 27th-Dec-2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying this. I'd never heard of any of this, and was going "Wtf is all this 5150/5250 crap?" Now I know WHY (I have never lived in CA).

This illustrates a very important point, that people should not assume that the laws in one state apply across the country. The 72 hour hour hold limit is the norm in most of the US, afaik.
metatrix 26th-Dec-2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know how it works in the States, but in Ontario, you can hold someone indefinitely, as long as you keep filling out the appropriate paperwork.

The initial hold (72 hours) is just for the purpose of a psychiatric evaluation.
Once the person is admitted to the hospital, you can fill out a Form 3 which holds the person for 2 weeks, then a Form 4 which holds the person for a month the first time and 3 months at a time each subsequent time you fill it out.
climbatize 27th-Dec-2012 05:41 am (UTC)
Mental hospitals (at least those in the U.S.) can definitely hold people for longer than 72 hours! I was in one hospital for about two weeks, involuntarily.
roseofjuly 27th-Dec-2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not talking about judgments by law enforcement...there's something called civil commitment, where a judge orders that a person be held beyond the 72 hour duration. All states have that. That's not what I'm talking about though; I'm referring to situations like the one in the comment above, where someone is put in a hospital by a close friend or relative for the safety of all involved. The hospital can't randomly just choose to hold the person indefinitely; they have to pursue legal means to get the person held there longer than about 72 hours (and the duration may vary a little from state to state, but generally speaking it's only a few days).

Apparently there's a CA code that allows physicians to hold patients up to 30 days if they can prove that the patient is a danger to themselves or others. I'm not sure whether that's civil commitment (which requires the judgment of a judge) or whether the hospital can use that at its discretion.
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