An Open Letter to Mr. Lanza

by Diane Dimond on March 17, 2014

Lanza Wishes He Had Done More

          “With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance …The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy, one for him, one for Ryan, one for me.”                                            ~ Peter Lanza, father of mass killer Adam Lanza

Dear Mr. Lanza,

First, may I tell you how deeply sorry I am for the loss of your son, Adam? As a mother myself I cannot imagine my child committing suicide and the never-ending pain that action must bring with it.

Here’s hoping you know how many people have prayed for your family since the terrible tragedy in December 2012.

I’m writing to say how glad I am that you finally spoke publicly about your youngest child. Like you, many of us hope that speaking out about your son’s mental illness will help other struggling families with afflicted children. I wonder how many of them fear their children might turn dangerous too.

Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School

While reading the New Yorker article about you I had to smile when you described Adam as, “Just a normal little weird kid,” who was intellectually curious and loving. Then, I felt sadness for you and your ex-wife, Nancy, as the writer described Adam’s increasing self-isolation – smelling things that weren’t there, washing his hands obsessively and his anti-social behaviors. When you had to tell his elementary school teachers to watch him for seizures I guess you knew that Adam was more than a little “weird.”

From reading the story it seems Adam’s 2005 diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome gave you some hope of finding meaningful solutions for your son. I realize you and your ex-wife had separated back in 2001 but I was glad to read that you stayed close to 13-year-old Adam and his big brother, Ryan.

So what the hell happened, Mr. Lanza? Why, on the morning Adam walked in to his mother’s bedroom and pumped four bullets into her face and then gunned down 26 innocent children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary had you not spoken to him in two years? I don’t mean to be disrespectful here but you were the grown up in this equation – the male figure in your son’s life – and you let weeks, months and years go by without communicating face-to-face with your obviously troubled son?

Nancy Lanza – Adam’s First Victim

I read that he was angry at you after a dispute about how many classes he should take. That was all it took to shut him down – forever?

You said when Adam refused to see you, “I was hurt. I never expected that I would never talk to him again. I thought it was a matter of when.” But two whole years went by!

You knew Adam never accepted the Asperger’s diagnosis and he was prone to fanciful thinking. He wanted to take college courses. He wanted to join the military. You knew your wife had a lifelong hobby of shooting and that there were guns in the home. If you weren’t responsible for Adam who, besides his now dead mother, was?

I’m not asking to be rude, I’m asking to understand how a parent can become so clouded in their thinking about a mentally ill child’s behavior that they allow that youngster to dictate the rules of the house. How does that even happen?

Sadly, I have to assume that similarly burdened parents are reacting the same way when they can’t find good quality mental health care solutions for their kids.

The author of the article, Andrew Solomon, wrote about you that, “He constantly thinks about what he could have done differently and wishes he had pushed harder to see Adam.”

The Haunted Last Look of Adam Lanza

I truly wish you had pushed harder too, Mr. Lanza. If only you had gone back to that big beautiful yellow home nestled behind the knoll in Newtown, Connecticut you might have noticed, for example, that your 20-year-old, six-foot-tall son weighed only 112 pounds at the end.

I checked the official Body Mass Index and was astounded to learn that Adam’s BMI was 15.2. People in the “underweight” category have a BMI of 18.5. Your son fell into the “starvation” and “anorexia” group. A study I read says prolonged semi-starvation brings on severe emotional instability, hysteria, anti-social behavior and depression – conditions it sounds like Adam already suffered. I have to believe if you had only seen him in that haunted looking state you would have done something, right?

If you had gone to visit Adam during those last two years you also might have noticed that he had covered the windows in his bedroom with thick black plastic. You might have noticed his stack of violent video games, the newspaper articles he collected about school shootings or the photos he had of dead humans wrapped in plastic.

A check of his computer might have brought up his spreadsheet about mass murders, the rights of pedophiles or the selfies he took while holding guns to his head. Your ex-wife might have finally admitted that Adam was refusing to eat or talk to her, communicating only via e-mail from behind his bedroom door.

State’s Fascinating Final Report on Lanza

I’m sure you’ve probably read that lengthy report by the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s office about your son’s mass murder, Mr. Lanza. It concludes Adam was a kid immersed in his own spiraling and destructive hell and your ex-wife was intent on trying to manage it all herself. So, how did you envision your son’s future?

You got it right, I fear, when you described Adam’s final fatal actions by saying, “You can’t get any more evil.” You wished he had never been born and admitted, “How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot.”

I am truly sorry for your loss, Mr. Lanza, but it is the parents of those 20 murdered children and the families of the dead teachers I mourn for the most. They had everything to live for. Inaction by both you and Nancy and the nation’s mental health system insured Adam was lost long ago.

I pray that this nation wakes up and comes to the realization that we either help the helpless like Adam or be condemned to suffer their sometimes inexplicable and explosive wrath.

home

 

 

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

ABQ Journal Reader Nancy Redmon writes:

“I feel you were a little harsh on Mr. Lanza. Do you have any idea what it is like to try to get help for a mentally ill family member??

I had to speak to my mentally ill father with a gun and billy club sitting near by…The lawyers told me it was impossible to have him put in a mental ward…he would have to kill someone first.
When we change the laws and have a family member make choices then we will be able to help those mentally ill people. Why do you see the mentally ill on the streets, it is often times the family wanted to help but found it impossible.
I find this mother responsible for having guns in her house. Why would she allow guns in her house knowing how unstable her son was (she knew as she had been seeking help)
Sincerely,
Nancy Redmon”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 9:29 am

Reader Robert Riversong writes:

“Diane,

Since you published your “letter” on a site which doesn’t allow commenting, I am forced to reply directly to you and ignore the fact that my comment won’t receive the same prominence that your unwarranted attack on Peter Lanza did.

Peter was more active in seeking outside help for Adam than his ex-wife Nancy, whom Peter was supporting in the manner to which she had become accustomed so that she could take full responsibility for her troubled son.

It was Nancy who put up barriers to Peter by accommodating every whim and tantrum of Adam, and it’s no surprise that Peter would acquiesce to Nancy’s demands since she was the custodial parent who claimed to know what their son needed.

It was Nancy who was in near-total denial about Adam’s descent into madness.

It was Nancy who allowed Adam to isolate himself even from her.

It was Nancy who taught Adam to shoot and to feel more comfortable with guns than with people.

It was Nancy who allowed Adam access to her small arsenal of deadly weapons.

It was Nancy who allowed Adam to waste his time on violent video games and who ignored the many hints and red flags he was leaving behind.

It was Nancy who had written a check for yet another gun for Adam for the following Christmas.

It was Nancy who bore all the responsibility for the tragic outcome, and Peter and their other son were but additional victims of her willful blindness and utter irresponsibility as a parent and as a member of society.

That you can’t see that obvious truth only indicates your own willful blindness.

– Robert Riversong”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

Mr. Riversong,

You may call me willfully blind but I think my eyes and my mind are wide open. Yes, the mother – the late Nancy Lanza – made mistakes. Obviously, taking the boy out of school, isolating him, coddling his every whim and allowing him free access to many guns was not the right way to go. However, there were TWO parents of this troubled child/man and one of them checked out for two years. He had every right in the world to make a drop by to see his son anytime he wanted – Nancy’s push-back notwithstanding.

As I wrote, Mr. Riversong – I didn’t ask the questions I did in this open letter to be rude. I asked them to light a bulb over the heads of other parents of troubled kids. No amount of wishful thinking, (“Oh, he/she will grow out of it”) is going to work. These pool souls are not suddenly going to get better and lead normal lives. Parents, teachers, the mental health community and the rest of us must realize that we have to do a better job at caring for, diagnosing and treating the mentally troubled. I write a lot about this topic as a quick search of my past columns will prove.

I cannot agree with your conclusion that Nancy Lanza bore all the responsibility for Adam. If you accept the fact that Adam had two parents who were responsible for his well-being I think you will have to agree with Mr. Lanza….He could have done more. This isn’t willful blindness it’s just the fact. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

Facebook Friend Patti Petow writes:

“Excellent, Diane. Right on the button. This kid was a walking billboard for mental illness and no one, it seems, payed attention to him as his condition worsened. Very, very sad for Adam and the worst kind of tragic for the innocent children gunned down for no good reason.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

Facebook Friend Mary Kerns Roberts writes:

“Awesome letter, Diane….I certainly hope you wrote it with the intention of HIM actually seeing it.”

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Robert Riversong March 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

Diane,

While you may know something about mental illness, you appear to know nothing about divorce and child custody, which almost always favors the mother and very often significantly disadvantages the father and his relationship to his children.

While this divorce was apparently amicable, and Peter Lanza had already given Nancy the conjugal home and more than enough financial support to maintain her lifestyle since their 2001 separation, when a custodial full-time mother puts up obstacles to a father’s visitation, those obstacles can appear insurmountable.

Peter, unlike Nancy, was actually researching alternative therapies, while Nancy was steadfastly in denial and only exacerbating already deep problems.

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Diane Dimond April 6, 2014 at 11:50 am

A ridiculous conclusion, Mr. Riversong. I raised a child – ALONE – following a divorce. I didn’t remarry until my daughter was a senior in high school. Don’t presume to know about my life and what I know firsthand. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

Facebook Friend Daniel Karten writes:

” (I) didn’t know those facts. even more tragic.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

Facebook Friend Susan Alloggio writes:

“WOW! I get so sick of parents dodging their responsibilities too.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:52 am

Facebook Friend Lisa Penna Zobel writes:

“Thank you!! Glad I’m not the only one who thought the writer gave him a complete pass on this. If anything, Mr. Lanza was another “missed checkpoint”, which is completely separate from his parenting or lack thereof. And that is where he utterly failed his son and ultimately all those victims.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

Facebook Friend Cea Giardino writes:

“Great letter Diane. I hope Mr. Lanza see this. I don’t feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for all the kids and teachers who were killed and the families who will never get over losing their sons and daughters. God Bless them.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:55 am

Facebook Friend Marilyn Rundle writes:

“Same question I had when he spoke out about his son last week. Maybe if he’d been in his son’s life those two years it may have been to the kid’s benefit. I think his father should shut up. He sounds like a lousy father.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 11:56 am

Facebook Friend Ralph V. Logan writes:

” Great Article, to the point.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Twitter Pal nell_hunt writes:

“@DiDimond Excellent piece, asking all the right questions, Diane.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Twitter Pal gutsy9 writes:

” @DiDimond Wow! Hard-hitting but on the mark .”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Twitter Pal don_peck reacts to: we need to do more for mental health funding:

” @DiDimond Yes we do, as a nation also, stop cutting funding to take care of them and for treatment!”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Facebook Friend Cathy Keane-Connolly writes:

“I have a son with issue and it is hard to get the medical insurance you need. Right medication doctors. He was 16 when diagnosed he is 26 and on his medication doing fine. It was hard for more than 4 years.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Facebook Friend Lynne Adrine writes:

>> “I’m asking to understand how a parent can become so clouded in their thinking about a mentally ill child’s behavior that they allow that youngster to dictate the rules of the house. How does that even happen?” >>
It happens every day, to varying degrees, with people we individually know. It happens because many parents think they can’t criticize their children and still love them. It happens because some people can’t acknowledge their children’s imperfections w/o out seeing it as failure. Those aren’t excuses, but I think we have to be honest before we get up on our collective high horses, even in the face of tragedy.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Facebook Friend Ce Cole Dillon writes:

“Aspbergers is not a mental illness in the traditional sense of mental illnesses and that is part of the problem here. These kids most of the time are really smart – savant like at some things, but they also have pervasive social development delays and disorders. Getting a diagnosis of Aspberger’s instead of mental illness was probably a relief for these parents. There is really little treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Most parents with children with this syndrome are overwhelmed with by the behavior of these children, and as they grow to adult size and strength, it is very difficult to control them.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Facebook Friend Kirsten Chambers writes:

“Peter Lanza is the only person around to blame I guess, I wish him nothing but the best.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Facebook Friend Mick Schultz writes:

“This letter begs a fair question–But still, why didn’t the MOTHER notify the authorities or get the guns out of the house?? Playing devil’s advocate here, but– she WAS aware of the multiple issues and warning signs and didn’t reach out to the father, or therapist or ANYONE. I’m assuming SHE had a key and had seen her son’s room etc. SHE was the OWNER of the guns and therefore bears MUCH more responsibility than the father. Obviously, he tried to be a good father and seems to have shown remorse for his son’s actions and his OWN failings as a father/husband.I just think laying this at HIS feet is a little convenient since she’s dead…”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Dear Mr. Schultz –
Laying it ALL at the father’s feet was not ever my intention, Mick. And, as I’ve said – this Mother made major, catastrophic mistakes. But I thought it was disingenuous of the writer of the original piece with Peter Lanza not to have challenged him in any way. Two years goes by and you don’t go see your troubled son? You let your ex-wife keep making excuses why you shouldn’t stop by? No, no…its not all Peter’s fault but, as I wrote, he must bear some responsibility as the boy/young man’s father. My primary point, however, is we all have to help parents who are stuck in this awful situation with better mental health care. As Mr. Lanza said – there was more wrong with Adam than autism…he was likely schizophrenic too. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Facebook Friend Renee Ellen Dale writes:

” My daughter has autism it isn’t mental its neurological….I hate some in the media has made people fear my daughter…”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Noozhawk Reader Discover You writes:

” Diane, how naive you are. Do you have any experience whatsoever with child estrangement of a parent? I can say honestly that you do not. When a teenage son decides to become estranged from you as a father, and nothing he does – no contacts, no gifts, no visits, no communication, no NOTHING can be absolutely devastating. How do I know? I live this horrible experience every single day. Have I tried everything? Yes! Counseling? Yes! Apologizing? Yes! EVERYTHING. It would have made no difference, and would have further enraged this young man. No, Diane, Adam was not a child any more. He was a 20 year old. He had chosen to be estranged from his Dad, who kept contact with him, for years. So what do you submit he should have done, Diane, in all of your wonderous hindsight wisdom? Should Mr. Lanza have killed his son. that’s what you are really implying. You want his death, and you want to continue killing and punishing the Lanza’s because you want vengeance. And so, I do not wish you so well. Be shamed.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Discover You,
Whoa … what an enormous jump you’ve taken here! And you are ascribing to me some off-the-wall conclusion I cannot allow to stand. I’m not about vengeance – ever.
I don’t know if you are male or female – but in your case don’t you think your child’s OTHER parent should be as responsible as you feel about your son? Don’t you think the other parent should be helping with the struggle you are having? I do.
I believe both parents should always be involved. Please see other comments from me regarding this column on this page. ~ DD”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Noozhawk Reader Libertarian writes:

” I don’t know the background of the marriage between Adam Lanza’s parents but I do know that the guy gets the short end of the stick on every issue about 99.95% of the time.

You make it sound like the mother was more of a victim than she probably was. She was the one who allowed her mentally unstable son access to firearms.”

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Diane Dimond March 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Libertarian,

Can’t disagree with your firearms conclusion. And I believe Nancy Lanza made many more major mistakes: taking her son out of school and allowing him to retreat from society, allowing her six foot tall son to get down to a brain-numbing 112 pounds, repeatedly telling her ex-husband not to come visit.
But I will repeat – the only other protection the very troubled Adam would have had was his father. Sad that Dad decided it was best to stay away for the last two years of his life. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Facebook Friend Sally Stewart writes:

“Who is ANYBODY to judge the parents in this situation. I like you a lot, Diane, but it is not your business to judge either parent.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Mick Schultz replies:

” She’s a journalist and she’s doing her job. But you’re right–we don’t know how or why they were estranged. And we all know that mental illness is hereditary. Did either of the parents have any history?? We may never really know why…”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Zee Bing replies:

” @ Sally Stewart — actually yes it is — he opened the door and I am not going to feel sorry for him I hold him responsible. You do not turn your back on your kid when they are mentally ill and he could have done something about it — it’s almost like all that money was a curse — if they had been poor it would not have gone on so long and all that money would not have been feeding and buying the weapons. // Nancy Lanza seems to have been a bit of a wack job — no one in their right mind would have a kid controlling them and have all that ammon and guns.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Facebook Friend Madeline Michele Hovey

“Great write up Diane…I feel for all. Very sad all of it. My heart breaks for all but the shooter.Thank U Diane.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Facebook Friend Ed Opperman – “Wow” as in incredible information. I wasn’t aware that he hadn’t spoken to his son or the weight issue or even the plastic on the windows. It’s a fascinating view on the situation. Perstective of a parent.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Facebook Friend Lee Kubichek Nowacek writes:

” I think he was a coward who left his ex to deal with a horrible situation. He should devote his life to encouraging deadbeat dads to participate in their kids’ lives.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Facebook Friend Steve Connor III writes:

” Should the dad and mother have tried more intervention in their son’s life? Of course! But, if a person is Schizophrenic, Psychotic, and/or Sociopathic, nothing short of professional treatment would have helped, and even then, nothing is guaranteed. Unless the mother was living in a total dream world, why the Hell would she buy guns for her delusional son?”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Facebook Friend Laura Duberstein Lindberg writes:

” Too easy to only get one side of this story when the mother is dead!!!”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Facebook Friend Annie Haley writes:

“Thank you for writing that Diane! My 8 year old son was just diagnosed with Asperger’s and it takes lots of education, patience and understanding to help him with his issues. As a parent, you never give up on your child. Adam was clearly being neglected. Brilliant job in reminding everyone that you can’t just walk away and give up on your child. Tragic case all around.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Facebook Friend Susan Karnes writes:

“I am offended by Diane’s comments to Mr. Lanza. Diane is not sorry, but nice try. Diane has to recheck her sources about what is a health weight for males in their 20’s. Secondly, the mental health care system has a long way to go. The philosophy that we must integrate mentally ill patients with society is when all these shooting started to happen. Years ago a child like Adam would have been locked away in an institution years ago with the key thrown away. Far more than 2 years would their have been no communication between Adam and his family. Unless you live with a child like Adam, you have know idea what you are talking about.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Ms. Karnes,
I cannot allow to stand the idea that I’m not sorry about what happened with Adam Lanza. Of course I am, or I wouldn’t have bothered to craft this column.
Perhaps you didn’t read through the entire column – because you clearly would have seen the link to the official Body Mass Index I included there. Please check it out – check my facts – about what constitutes a body that is in “semi-starvation mode.” A six footer who weighs only 112 pounds is existing at a grave health risk. Also, read my (repeated) calls for America to increase its mental health care services. This is something that regular readers know I have often written in favor of. This isn’t “years ago when a child like Adam would have been locked away” – this is 2014 and the cases of Jared Laughner, John Holmes and now Adam Lanza (along with many others) SHOULD have taught us the lesson that we must do a better job helping families with these troubled children.
You may continue to think I “have know (sic) idea what (I) am talking about…” but I may know more than you give me credit for. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Facebook Friend Sue Sutherland writes:

“Thank you, Susan! I have tried to get mental help assistance for family members, it was an impossible task. Years of heartache…”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Facebook Friend Dina Monaco-Boland Susan Karnes: What sources do you have that state that 112 lbs is within the normal weight range for a 6 foot tall 20 year old man? The open letter acknowledges that there were years and years of signs that something was wrong with Adam. I think what Diane was saying was that, when you KNOW there is something seriously wrong with YOUR child, you don’t abandon him. Mr. Lanza just threw up his hands and said “I’m out!” and left his wife alone to deal with it.
I have a family member who has schizophrenia. I’m not sure how long it took for the doctors to come to that diagnosis. I only know that it was years upon years of treatment, in & out of facilities, diet changes, prescription changes, etc. She began showing symptoms around age 15. She is now 53 and living in a halfway house situation. Her immediate family did all that they could for her- it wasn’t just “Oh, she’s got such-n-such” “Oh, okay” and then go on with their normal lives.
It’s not pleasant and it’s not easy but that’s what you do for your child. If there’s a divorce, you don’t divorce your child. I believe it was all just too much for the mom (Adam Lanza’s) to handle on her own. She had no support system and I can only guess that she must’ve felt so alone and on her own after Adam’s dad washed his hands of their son.
Diane: I felt the same way after reading Mr. Lanza’s recent statements. All I can think is, why is he coming out with this now? What book/movie deal is he looking for?”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Facebook Friend Kristen Burrell Buffington writes:

“Yes, Diane does know what she talking about with her comments to Mr. Lanza— shame on him and his x- wife….he just got up and left….. And nancy supplied endless amounts of arsenal to Adam…..simply disgusting….. Shame on them//
My mother is now dead from an accident that probably would not have happened if Fairfield hills hadn’t closed down years ago…. She hated going to Danbury hospital when she wasn’t well as did we — hated bringing her there( her last roommate was a crack addict)….. My family has suffered years of hell due to the fact that we had nowhere to turn for help…. She died a horrible death last month… It may have been avoided if there was a treatment center…..”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Noozhawk Reader tarracali writes:

“Don’t blame Diane Dimond. Blame Adam’s dad for publicly spewing his guts out then expecting us to not wonder why he did not see his mentally disturbed son for 2 years.”

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Diane Dimond March 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Noozhawk Reader Pierhead writes:

” As a divorced father and a former social worker with a troubled son whose mother had custody I can’t begin to tell you the problems I encountered in trying to get him help.
His mother was a therapist herself and yet refused to participate in family therapy because she ‘was not the problem’. She threatened to deny access to my son for reporting obvious neglect to Child Protective Services. At first they were reluctant to get involved and questioned if I was current on my child support. When they finally did respond they gave two weeks notice prior to the home visit which allowed her family time to clean the feces off the walls and remove the accumulated dirty underwear from his room – laundry which she had been refusing to do. It wasn’t until her own father beat him up and his therapist suggested a change in residences that I was able to obtain custody.
No, my sympathies are with Adam’s father and not his mother who refused to turn to the proper authorities for help and gave him access to the weapons he used to kill.”

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Diane Dimond March 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

Jewish World Review Reader Doug Harrison writes:

” I just read the article, “An Open Letter to the Sandy Hook Mass Killer’s Father,” posted by the Jewish World Review. It provided details of which I was not previously aware, and it was powerful. Indeed, the issue in America is not a “gun crisis”; it is a mental health crisis.

It has been revealed that many of the mass murderers (probably all mass murderers) had suffered some sort of untreated or poorly monitored mental illness. In almost every case, people with knowledge of another’s mental crisis have been unable to secure official help or restraint for such individuals, and not merely because there are few treatment facilities available. Most often cited is the person’s privacy rights, so that those with intimate knowledge of a person’s illness are unable to do anything but hope nothing will ever come of their fears.

Yes, privacy is a right, but at some point, the person’s welfare and that of others around him must trump privacy rights. It is past time for this nation to consider institutionalization of people with dangerous psychoses. We cannot disarm the population, leaving them at risk to true predatory criminals, for the sake of a few people who suffer mental illnesses that can reasonably be expected to lead to heinous acts of violence.

Thanks, Diane for pointing a spotlight on the mental health crisis in America. We really do need to change the dialog away from gun control and toward mental health issues, including the effects of psychotropic drugs. I look forward to reading more from Diane on this subject, as it is an evolving topic that must be fully explored for meaningful change to ensue.”

Best regards,
Doug Harrison

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Diane Dimond March 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Facebook Friend James Campbell writes:

“Very well written. I’ve had to cover this story for WGCH radio in Greenwich and wondered the same things….”

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Diane Dimond March 19, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Facebook Friend Sue Schroeder writes:

“I know many people with mental illness and they do not gun down people, especially children. I don’t see this as being the Parents fault. Maybe the system up to a point. Many of us have challenges and anger issues and we are not killing people. Who are we to judge anyways?”

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Diane Dimond March 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Facebook Friend Sharon Rager writes:

“Thank you for getting to the point re the Lanzas. The Mother really was an enabler and did not understand the dangers. Both parents working together might have been more cognizant and aware. But then, that we could ALL see the future. Horrible for all.”

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Diane Dimond March 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Reader K. Abeyta writes:

“In reading your article, I felt strongly enough that I need to respond. I worked with children and adults with disabilities, including Asperger’s syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, with an overlay of major mental illness including paranoid schizophrenia, so I feel well qualified to respond as my career spaned 25 years.

In my research, marriages of children with disabilties often do no withstand the strain and diffiiculty of raising a child with severe challenges and demanding needs. As the child enters school where socialization plays such a big part of our global learning experience, the child as well as the parents, are faced with isolation, lonliness, and an awareness of the gaps that exist, and their future seems quite bleak. The abyss can grow even larger, and the child withdraws into himself. Resources as well as educational and training opportunities are not as available or “best practices” that will help both the child and parent. Psychologists and doctors simply want to medicate the child where he/she will become even more “zombie” like.

Boys generally with mental illness as they reach puberty grow angrier, more violent, and those tendencies are aimed outward toward others, expecially fathers and other authority figures. Girls with mental illness as this stage, grow to have a self loathing, often become promiscious, and behave oversexualized and begin cutting or self-injuring through drug use or other destructive means. Thus, the behaviors manifest themselves in ways that make these children quite difficult to manage both in the home setting and in school. Competent therapists, educators, physicians, who make up a team as well as community support from other parents and agencies is necessary. That does not always happen for reason of lack of access, lack of funds, or simply that the family is in denial as to the severity of the problems they are faced with. Often, parents are at a loss as to what to do or do not seek the help they need to help their child.

In the case of Adam, he probably needed that and more. He wouldl have been better served in a supervised setting, i.e., group home and with an agency where caregivers, and other professional personnel trained and operating in this field, could have insured he received the treatment and care he so desperatly needed as a young adult.

His father tried to seek those resources. His mother chose to keep Adam at home, isolated, with those violent thoughts brewing, denying him then proper medication and treatment. Insofar as his weight or lack thereof, many kids with Asperger’s syndrome are extremely underweight for reason that they are highly energized, have a high metabolism, and run from activity to activity. Also some psychoactive medications serve to suppress appetite and increase sleep problems for children with these disorders. So it is important for a nutritionist or dietician to be involved to insure and monitor weight concerns. These children are often without fear or feelings of remorse. Those qualities must be taught and reinforced so that they begin to replace and internalize those positive emotions vs. negative emotions into their repetoire. It requires much hard work and constant attention to detail in working with these children.

Overall, there is much to learn from these children and parents, as well as the experts in this field of work. Once upon a time, these kids were institutionalized and left to rot in some foresaken institution where they suffered abuse and were left untreated. These parents need our support and help to cope, learn and love their children, despite their difficulty circumstances. And,… PLEASE REMEMBER MOST OF THESE CHILDREN ARE NOT GOING TO GET AHOLD OF WEAPONS AND KILL.

Your aritcle did a disservice to Adam Lanza, his parents, and any parent or person involved in working with children with dual or muti-diagnoses. You, like the general public, have no idea of the hardship of facing such a life of difficult choices. Talk is cheap, Diane. Read more on the subject before condemning Mr. Lanza and placing blame at his doorstep. Shame, shame. “

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Dana April 6, 2014 at 7:04 am

I disagree that Diane’s letter did a disservice. It’s her website and her Diane’s feelings on the matter — you can not help the way you feel. I just don’t think what Diane knows first hand what it is like to live in a home or raise a child that comes from divorce.’

Here’s to hoping the Mental Health gets more attention. As I am typing this, the news just announced the second child died from a drowning. A lady recently drowned two children because “voices told her too” and she thought she could be a better mother to her oldest.
I book marked this link and it’s too sad to read to see if they updated. A 911 operator was fired for releasing the 911 call also.

This country needs to start taking Mental Health issues serious.
Sad.
http://www.post-gazette.com/local/crime/2014/04/03/911-call-paints-picture-of-mother-of-dead-boy/stories/201404030203

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Diane Dimond April 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

Dear Dana,
Please don’t presume to know what my life has been like. In fact, I DO indeed know what it is like to “raise a child that comes from divorce.” I was a single mother until I re-married when my daughter was in high school. Been there, done that – all by myself with no monetary support whatsoever. ~ DD

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