Mar 15, 2016 5:32 PM

Family says lack of NH mental health aid fueled fire that lead to son's arson charges

GREENVILLE - A family who lost everything in a house fire set by their son says they have bigger worries on their mind than the material things lost.

The family opened up in a one-on-one interview as they explained the fire was a cry for help after their son was failed by the state after years of suffering with mental illness.

“He’s been crying for help for years many, many years,” said Annette Gallagher after her Greenville home was set on fire by her son.

Annette and her husband, Tom Gallagher, have had their share of obstacles after an accident left Tom paralyzed years ago.

Tragedy has stuck again as the two are living in a hotel after their son, James Reardon, 20, was charged with arson.

“He did something wrong," said Tom Gallagher. "I mean he did something but in the same aspect I don’t really think he knew what he was doing.”

The community has rallied by setting up a GoFundMe page for the the family, but something else troubles the couple.

“We’ve called doctors, I’ve got the police involved and no one could help him," Gallagher said. "Our last chance was he went to a hospital and he was in it a week. They should have never released him and I’m not trying to badmouth the hospital."

In conversations about her son, Annette used the words, "OCD," "bipolar," "angry," and "depressed" as she described the years of struggle that her son has had with mental illness.

Gallagher told NH1 News it’s been years of asking for help and being rejected or passed off time and time again. So NH1 News went looking for answers.

Due to HIPPA laws our staff tried to contact the hospitals Reardon was in but they could not give us any details about his condition or stay with them. In fact, Gallagher has been told the same. Often doctors tell her, James is an adult and will not discuss his state with her even though she says he's clearly not fit to make decisions on his own.

“Asking for help is a difficult thing,” admitted Tom - not only about himself but about his step-son.

“Jail - maybe he thought, 'That at least it’s somewhere secure and maybe some place where I can’t hurt anything or anyone,'” Annette Gallagher said.

Overall, New Hampshire has a higher prevalence of mental illness in youths but a lower rate of access to care - it ranks 38th in the United States.

Reardon was arraigned Monday for arson charges and is being held on bail - but it’s a fee that the family has agreed for now they won’t pay.

“I need him to see what he did," she said. "What’s happened has happened and now the court has the chance to fix it now. They can fix him."

The Gallaghers told NH1 News they are hopeful their son will get the help he needs perhaps mandated by the courts while he is behind bars.

A similar hope shared with a family that lives miles away in Tilton.

The family said their son, Jordan Ingram - who also suffers from mental illness - was also crying out for help after destroying the family business with an excavator just last week.

If you or anyone you know needs help mental health care, help is is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of NH.


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