SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Three people in three weeks: a young man from Bolivar as charged with threatening to shoot up a local movie theater; another man then vowed to finish the job; and, this week, a man from Springfield told staff at Mercy Hospital he would be returning with guns.
In each of those cases, family members have said mental illness is at least partially to blame. We're not saying these men and others who claim so are not mentally ill. What experts are saying is the definition of mental illness is constantly broadening and, sometimes, a diagnosis is a little too easy to come by.
"He said, 'Mommy, do you think I'm a failure?' And I said, 'No, Blaec you're not.' And he's not. He didn't ask to be this way," Tricia Lammers told reporters at a news conference about her son.
"I love my son very deeply, but it is disturbing to think you don't really know what's going on up there. I'm not in his head," Misty Brogan told KSPR about her son.
These two mothers and two sons in very similar situations. Blaec Lammers threatened to kill people at a movie theater in Bolivar. Mykah Brogan gave his plan props on Facebook. Two mothers say their two sons suffer from mental illness.
"I think it is a cry for help," Misty Brogan said.
Nobody doubts that, but who doesn't need a little help these days?
"All of us have behavioral health challenges," said psychiatrist Dr. Paul Thomlinson, who works at Burrell Behavioral Health in Springfield.
For the past decade, Thomlinson says, he's watched the mental illness spectrum broaden.
"There's a line to be drawn or walked when it comes to what is real mental illness and what is what some would call, and I think it's an accurate phrase, the pathologizing of everyday life," Thomlinson said.
Thomlinson says that line becomes more blurred with every new edition of a book -- "it's sort of the bible of psychology, what we use to diagnose all human beings" -- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for the American Pyschiatric Association.
The fifth edition will be released next year, and it's rumored to include a new condition called Internet Use Disorder. Thomlinson says that's a bit frightening -- that we've become so quick to diagnose relatively normal behavior, especially when it's "bad" normal behavior like committing a violent crime.
"Absolutely, it does not make them mentally ill, absolutely not," said Thomlinson.
A diagnosis of mental illness should be much more complicated. Thomlinson hopes it continues to be, so people who can manage on their own don't undermine those who cannot.
"He's not a criminal. He's an individual who suffers from an illness and he needs help," Tricia Lammers said about her son.
Thomlinson says he has seen three conditions broaden the most, and, likely as a result, there's been a spike in people with them. They are ADHD in children, depression in adults, and bi-polar disorder in all ages.
Blaec Lammers, who has felony charges for his plan to shoot people inside a theater then later instead a Walmart store, is undergoing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.