Facing mental health issues in Tri-Cities

Facing mental health issues in Tri-Cities »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - For most, talking about mental illness can be taboo. The massacre at Sandy Hook has brought the conversation to the forefront. Especially for Lacy Buckingham.

"I've got is three different kinds of anxiety medicine for my anxiety, I have borderline personality disorder," she said.

That diagnosis means she takes more than 30 medications a day.
Lacy's only 27 years old, but she's been in and out of the hospital for years.

She's a classic case of bouncing around the system. When Lacy's not in care, she's in jail. She says she can't control her behavior. Lacy's been known to shoplift, even file false police reports. She's currently on house arrest. Lacy will go back to a care center for the mentally ill next week. She doesn't believe it will help.

She continues, "No counseling, no therapy, they just give me another pill, like a sucker in my mouth to shut me up."

Unlike many, Lacy has a support system in her family, but she's still falling through the cracks.

Her father Lyle Buckingham said, "A general person like me, you don't know where to look or what to do, you're just stuck."

In order to help people get unstuck, there's been an effort to create a bi-county crisis response center. The issue has languished for years.
Benton County Commissioner Jim Beaver and Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck have spoken of their support for a consolidated center before.

The plan would build a new facility or remodel an old building. Like everything else the issue is money.

Peck wants to shift some of the money going to Ben-Franklin Transit to fund a crisis center instead. He says other commissioners haven't been in support and now's the time to act.

"We've got a very important unmet need that speaks to caring for people who are mentally ill before we have instances like we've seen," said Peck.

For Lacy and her father, this would be a step in the right direction.

"Have a place to go with beds for people with mental problems that can get right then attention," she said.

This would give her a real option towards a stable life.

The money for the facility is a tenth of a penny sales tax that's already in place.

So it wouldn't be more than what you're already paying it would just shift where the money is going.

Peck says it would still need to go before voters if county leaders agreed to the change.