Category Archives: suicide

Lawyer Reads Own Confession: Devil’s Backbone almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career

 

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Screenshot_20190817-014510In the Spring of 2012 and while living in Tennessee, bi-polar symptoms sent me to psych hospitals three times in three months. The last time was after Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – in the seventh wealthiest county in entire country – with the lady at the “please don’t jump” number on the sign in this feature photo. (1-800-273-8255)

Since my return to Tucson in April of 2012, I’ve experienced no psychiatric emergencies of any type, barring frequent suicidal ideations during my first year or so back here. Cognitively, I’m at the top of my game. I wrote the bulk of this essay in the few weeks between my sixth and my last hospitalizations.

 

 

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[PLEASE NOTE: BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

.

VIDEO: AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION TO THIS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY AND IDENTICATION OF THE RESOURCES FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS MADE AVAILABLE AFTER THE READING.

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VIDEO: AUTHOR READS “Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career.”

***

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The Natchez Trace was called the Devil’s Backbone long before Spring 2012, when it almost became the final stop in my bipolar legal career

[March 2012, somewhere near Franklin, Tennessee] The patients in the psychiatric unit mumbled their revulsion for the distinguished lawyer whose bloated colostomy bag had slipped open, sending its vile contents onto the floor and furnishings of the break room where the patients had gathered to watch television.

I loathed the man for another reason.

Moments earlier the gentleman confided in me that he bore the ugly bag because he had blown out his insides with buckshot. He had tried to kill himself, he said, because bipolar disorder had destroyed his legal career.

My disgust wasn’t at the wretched odor that now hung in the break room. It was at this man; his simple existence mocked my hope that my own bipolar disorder would stop terrorizing me and let me return to what society calls worthwhile work.

Two days earlier, I’d almost killed myself. Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge, an award-winning structure that as of 25 January 2019, had kept its promise to 32 men and women who chose this extraordinarily beautiful part of Middle Tennessee to end their lives. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – with the lady at the phone number on the “please don’t jump” sign.

And now I stood, again, in pale blue scrubs behind the locked doors of a mental hospital. I looked down at the fecal trail that followed my fellow lawyer down the hall. I thought of my own path. It reeked too. It consisted of less-than-political statements and acts, simmered in the cauldron of pharmaceutical side effects I had to endure, I was told, if I was to live.

 

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It wasn’t always this way. I had started my legal career as a prosecutor who didn’t have the slightest clue how many people are broken. But my case load included more than criminal cases. It included the commitment of men and women who had become a danger to themselves or others. In stately courtrooms, the County Jail, and ammonia-laced emergency rooms, I asked judges to lock up broken people like this lawyer I had just met.

To lock up people like me.

imageIn the years that followed¸ my legal career continued to intersect the blurry line that is mental illness. Reviewing psychiatric records, questioning expert witnesses who tried to explain the depths of somebody’s darkness and getting courts to see that my clients were more than just numbers on file folders, were just things that any lawyer should do. That I was particularly passionate about mental health issues didn’t occur to me.

I slept little in those days. Back then, I could rely, again and again, on having enough energy to work late at my office or to meet with clients at the Oklahoma County jail well past midnight even though I had to be in court first thing in the morning.

Despite a caseload of time-intensive state and federal cases, I volunteered time and energy to serve as an officer of my local chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as a member of the American Inns of Court. I judged law school moot court competitions and taught a couple of CLEs. I took the time to write articles and essays that proposed strengthening a federal criminal statute and which encouraged my colleagues to think outside the box about the death penalty and about how we practice law.

“How do you keep up that pace?” asked the lawyer who would soon handle my divorce. “You’ll burn out,” he said.

John was right.

Screenshot_20190816-222806On a blistering July afternoon, my mind began to race itself toward a crash, with both brake and gas slammed to the floor. The intensity was strangely familiar, but this time the sensation was unbearable. I was in the passenger seat, with my wife driving and our daughter in the back.

I jumped.

In the days that followed, I roamed the streets, a shopping mall, barely sure where I was. I rummaged through my mind like a bargain hunter digs through the leftovers at a garage sale. I wanted to find something familiar.

But no matter what I turned over in my mind, I couldn’t find my clients’ names. I couldn’t find what their cases were about. And I couldn’t find a single memory that told me how I could file even the simplest of legal documents for them.

I was already scheduled, as president of my Federal Bar Association chapter, to welcome attorneys who had recently been admitted to practice in federal court. It was no big deal. But I was terrified, and for good reason. As I stepped to the podium and began to speak, I found that everything I knew so well about our federal courts was balled up in my mind like a spider web. I heard that same confusion in the words I tried to welcome my fellow lawyers with. I didn’t want anyone to see me after that.

In the months that followed, I passed off my cases to other lawyers, closed my practice, left my wife and child, had an affair, wrote an overly confessional 300-page novel manuscript, returned to Nashville – where I’d finished high school – and tried to start a new life.

I stopped listening to news and to any commentary about the world around me. Old friends Sammy Hagar and Angus Young started coming around a lot more often. And I banged hard on my old upright piano, hoping to drown out the screaming tension that had taken over my life.

The doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. According to Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, co-author of the definitive medical text on Manic-Depressive Illness, bipolar is a condition that is characterized by fierce energy, high mood, quick intelligence, increased risk taking and decreased need for sleep. It also comes with a very high risk of suicide.

I certainly knew of bipolar disorder and had studied the DSM diagnostic criteria. It was the unbridled manic-depressive symptomology that made a lot of those commitment hearings necessary during my tenure as an assistant D.A. The condition never has been and never will be a stranger to my criminal cases, either as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer.

I considered the diagnosis a death sentence.

 

John had been right. It would have been impossible – at least for me – to maintain that same kind of pace indefinitely. But I was handling it all pretty well and hadn’t sacrificed any of the top-shelf legal work that I did for my clients.

Something specific must have triggered otherwise dormant symptoms. At least it’s always seemed that way to me.

At the time, I was trench deep in reviewing seemingly never-ending evidence that federal prosecutors had turned over in a multi-state child-sex-trafficking case. I was having a hard time shaking an image my mind had created while reading through FD-302s and other investigation documents: a ten-year-old girl who’d been kidnapped and taken from her home state so that she could be sold out for sex. What was left of the child’s broken body had been found in a dumpster behind a grocery store across town. The poor kid had refused a bottom bitch’s order to let an over-the-road trucker rape her.

My little girl had been that age not too many years earlier.

.

.

Screenshot_20190813-001330.png

.

Whatever the cause or causes, I still considered my new bi-polar diagnosis a death sentence. For my career. For my life.

But men and women in white coats with their names embroidered on them told me that if I took my medications, saw a therapist and steered clear of drugs and alcohol, that my condition would no longer interfere with my life and my ability to practice law. This should be easy enough, I thought. Illegal drugs had never been a problem for me. And I hadn’t abused alcohol since I was in college.

I did everything the doctors told me to do. And I did it exactly as they had instructed. Between late Summer of 2004 and April of 2012 – seven years ago – my bipolar disorder cost me two jobs and forced me to close a private practice. BP severed relationships with those I cared about most, alienated friends and family, and put me in psychiatric hospitals seven times. My manic depression made me want to die more times than I can count.

[Even though I’ve not once thought of killing myself for almost six years, I remain wary. Bipolar disorder has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass. So I may again clutch a 38 revolver as i try to figure out how to make the smallest mess for folks to have to clean up. I my again stand on a sidewalk, struggling to make an educated guess as to optimal moment when I should step off the sidewalk and into the path of a bus traveling at 40 mph. If so, I hope I’ll do a better job remembering this analysis than I did that day in late March or early April of 2012, when I drew near to a jumping bridge on the Devil’s backbone.]

“I can either kill myself, which would take me away from those who love me but it would stop the pain, or I can choose to live. If I am to live, I’m going to have to remember five important truths.

First, I am not alone with this illness. And the lawyer who filled himself with buckshot is not alone either. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are among more than fifteen million people (statistic needs updating) who suffer from severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder during a given year. As my medical expert explained it to jurors some years ago, people with bipolar disorder can rise to the very top of their profession. And, the physician explained, we’re talking about people with household names.

Screenshot_20190819-010138A second fact I need to remember is that there are organizations out there to help me and my loved ones. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) are just two of the groups dedicated to helping individuals and their families cope with what can be a disabling condition. Crisis hotlines exist in many cities for those who think they can’t go on.

That there have been profound pharmaceutical advances is a third truth I should keep in mind if I am to avoid becoming just another statistic. I need to remember that some of my medications have helped me live and work as well as anyone else. It’s just that sometimes the medications need changing. Yes, I become weary as the doctors try to find one or more that works. But the science of treating brain disorders has allowed medications to target parts of the brain with increased focus and efficacy. The likelihood that medications will again help me function is greater if I just let the doctors continue their work.

The fourth truth I should remember about bipolar disorder is that it has forced me to stop and ask if my career is consistent with my passion in this life. Years before many ask the question, I have the opportunity to ask “what am I here for?” and to change direction while there is still time.

[Now, I maintain a perfectly good Tennessee law license. And before that I had a perfectly good Oklahoma law license. There’s never been reason to investigate me for professional misconduct. And even though bipolar disorder can be a fast track to a criminal record, I still don’t have a criminal record. But even so,] bipolar disorder has given me a fifth issue to consider.

Manic-depressive illness has forced me to look deep inside and find my worth in who I am and not in what I do. It’s not easy. Ours is a society that tells people they count if they work in professions that others think matter. That is, the more others pay for someone, the greater that person’s worth.

But I have a worth separate and apart from what others say or pay. I have worth because the Divine says so – because God says so – and because I am part of the human family. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the greatest difficulty is that men do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is that they are sacrificing when they follow in a herd, or when they cater for their establishment.” Bipolar Disorder has forced me to see the truth in Emerson’s statement. It has forced me to tell the establishment that it will no longer define my worth. Strange as it sounds, bipolar disorder has given me a reason to live.

 

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Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice of The Supreme Court of the United States (25 Sept. 1981 – 31 Jan. 2006)

 

WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE

 

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screenshot_20190620-144006_hancom office editor7356037015652063365..jpg

Five Finger Death Punch

WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN – scrolling list of resources for past and present mil

Wrong Side of Heaven + resources for all past and present military personnel

BLUE ON BLACK. The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefitFirst Responders.

Official music video for Blue On Black (feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert & Brian May) by Five Finger Death Punch. Stream or Download:https://5fdp.ffm.to/blueonblack

Proceeds from this song to be donated to The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefit First Responders. If you are considering donating yourself then you can do so by visiting – https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/ Fol

Screenshot_20190812-231605.png

The Fighter
C.J. Chivers
After graduating in January 1988, Chivers served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated from the United States Army’s Ranger School, served in the first Gulf War and in peacekeeping operations during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 before being honorably discharged as a captain in 1994.[5] Chivers graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism a year later.[6]
Screenshot_20190812-232427.png
FAST COMPANY
Tracking The Lives Of Veterans To Figure Out Where They Slip Through TheCracks
About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that number is probably far higher if you factor in those less than honorably and dishonorably discharged, which the VA doesn’t include in its statistics.
In general, these deaths often have contributing factors that are recognized in hindsight, say, depression or substance abuse, and maybe access to a firearm. But that doesn’t really tell much about who the person was or how they interacted with their community.
A $3.5 million research initiative led by the nonprofit veteran services group America’s Warrior Partnership, along with the University of Alabama and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, aims to change that by first tracking all of the local-level risk factors that lead to veteran suicides, and then creating a holistic plan to help communities prevent more of them.
Jim Lorraine, the president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), considers this a new kind of sorely needed battle plan. By his count, there are 21 million former military service people in America, but the VA only serves about half that number. “It’s a general way to say it, but we can move from fishing for those veterans who might take their life, to hunting for [them],” he says. (Lorraine is the former Deputy Command Surgeon for the United States Special Operations Command, so prone to militaristic terminology.)

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Re Bad Paper: Legal Services Center, Harvard University, National Veterans Legal Services Program, & Swords to Ploughshares. (2016, March). Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.

https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/liman/document/underserved_liman_program.pdf

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The VA encourages those who need help to reach out: “Veterans, Service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.” https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/

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(GREAT BRITAIN / UK) All Call Signs is a peer-to-peer communication app for Veterans and serving Military Personnel. Our chat service is manned by volunteers who have served in The Forces and understand the stresses and struggles that come with daily life in and out of uniform. If life is getting you down and you need someone to speak to, hit the chat button below. We’re here.

https://allcallsigns.org/

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https://combatresearchandprose.com/2019/07/07/combatresearchandprose-introduction-to-new-source-for-real-world-research-products-created-with-policy-makers-in-mind/

 

LAWYER READS HIS RECENT CONFESSION – Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career

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[PLEASE NOTE: LINKS TO VETERAN- AND-FIRST RESPONDER FOCUSED RESOURCES APPEAR BELOW. BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

VIDEO: AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION TO THIS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY AND IDENTICATION OF THE RESOURCES FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS MADE AVAILABLE AFTER THE READING.

*.

VIDEO: AUTHOR READS “Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career.”

***

[PLEASE NOTE: LINKS TO VETERAN- AND-FIRST RESPONDER FOCUSED RESOURCES APPEAR BELOW. BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

In the Spring of 2012 and while living in Tennessee, bi-polar symptoms sent me to psych hospitals three times in three months. The last time was after Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – in the seventh wealthiest county in entire country – with the lady at the “please don’t jump” number on the sign in this feature photo. (1-800-273-8255)

Since my return to Tucson in April of 2012, I’ve experienced no psychiatric emergencies of any type, barring frequent suicidal ideations during my first year or so back here. Cognitively, I’m at the top of my game. I wrote the bulk of this essay in the few weeks between my sixth and my last hospitalizations.

.
4a69ddbb-2638-44af-8e43-290a8e58bcd2-WAM-NatchezTraceBridge-02

They lost loved ones to suicide on the Natchez Trace Bridge. They say better barriers could prevent more tragedies.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2019/01/25/natchez-trace-bridge-suicide-barriers-prevention/2481298002/

****

The Natchez Trace was called the Devil’s Backbone long before Spring 2012, when it almost became the final stop in my bipolar legal career

[March 2012, somewhere near Franklin, Tennessee] The patients in the psychiatric unit mumbled their revulsion for the distinguished lawyer whose bloated colostomy bag had slipped open, sending its vile contents onto the floor and furnishings of the break room where the patients had gathered to watch television.

I loathed the man for another reason.

Moments earlier the gentleman confided in me that he bore the ugly bag because he had blown out his insides with buckshot. He had tried to kill himself, he said, because bipolar disorder had destroyed his legal career.

My disgust wasn’t at the wretched odor that now hung in the break room. It was at this man; his simple existence mocked my hope that my own bipolar disorder would stop terrorizing me and let me return to what society calls worthwhile work.

Two days earlier, I’d almost killed myself. Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge, an award-winning structure that as of 25 January 2019, had kept its promise to 32 men and women who chose this extraordinarily beautiful part of Middle Tennessee to end their lives. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – with the lady at the phone number on the “please don’t jump” sign.

And now I stood, again, in pale blue scrubs behind the locked doors of a mental hospital. I looked down at the fecal trail that followed my fellow lawyer down the hall. I thought of my own path. It reeked too. It consisted of less-than-political statements and acts, simmered in the cauldron of pharmaceutical side effects I had to endure, I was told, if I was to live.

It wasn’t always this way. I had started my legal career as a prosecutor who didn’t have the slightest clue how many people are broken. But my case load included more than criminal cases. It included the commitment of men and women who had become a danger to themselves or others. In stately courtrooms, Spartan jail cells and ammonia-laced emergency rooms, I asked judges to lock up broken people like this lawyer I had just met.

To lock up people like me.

In the years that followed¸ my legal career continued to intersect the blurry line that is mental illness. Reviewing psychiatric records, questioning expert witnesses who tried to explain the depths of somebody’s darkness and getting courts to see that my clients were more than just numbers on file folders, were just things that any lawyer should do. That I was particularly passionate about mental health issues didn’t occur to me.

I slept little in those days. Back then, I could rely, again and again, on having enough energy to work late at my office or to meet with clients at the Oklahoma County jail well past midnight even though I had to be in court first thing in the morning.

Despite a caseload of time-intensive state and federal cases, I volunteered time and energy to serve as an officer of my local chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as a member of the American Inns of Court. I judged law school moot court competitions and taught a couple of CLEs. I took the time to write articles and essays that proposed strengthening a federal criminal statute and which encouraged my colleagues to think outside the box about the death penalty and about how we practice law.

“How do you keep up that pace?” asked the lawyer who would soon handle my divorce. “You’ll burn out,” he said.

John was right.

On a blistering July afternoon, my mind began to race itself toward a crash, with both brake and gas slammed to the floor. The intensity was strangely familiar, but this time the sensation was unbearable. I was in the passenger seat, with my wife driving and our daughter in the back.

I jumped.

In the days that followed, I roamed the streets, a shopping mall, barely sure where I was. I rummaged through my mind like a bargain hunter digs through the leftovers at a garage sale. I wanted to find something familiar.

But no matter what I turned over in my mind, I couldn’t find my clients’ names. I couldn’t find what their cases were about. And I couldn’t find a single memory that told me how I could file even the simplest of legal documents for them.

I was already scheduled, as president of my Federal Bar Association chapter, to welcome attorneys who had recently been admitted to practice in federal court. It was no big deal. But I was terrified, and for good reason. As I stepped to the podium and began to speak, I found that everything I knew so well about our federal courts was balled up in my mind like a spider web. I heard that same confusion in the words I tried to welcome my fellow lawyers with. I didn’t want anyone to see me after that.

In the months that followed, I passed off my cases to other lawyers, closed my practice, left my wife and child, had an affair, wrote an overly confessional 300-page novel manuscript, returned to Nashville – where I’d finished high school – and tried to start a new life.

I stopped listening to news and to any commentary about the world around me. Old friends Sammy Hagar and Angus Young started coming around a lot more often. And I banged hard on my old upright piano, hoping to drown out the screaming tension that had taken over my life.

The doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. According to Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, co-author of the definitive medical text on Manic-Depressive Illness, bipolar is a condition that is characterized by fierce energy, high mood, quick intelligence, increased risk taking and decreased need for sleep. It also comes with a high risk of suicide.

I certainly knew of bipolar disorder and had studied the DSM diagnostic criteria. It was the unbridled manic-depressive symptomology that made a lot of those commitment hearings necessary during my tenure as an assistant D.A. The condition never has been and never will be a stranger to my criminal cases, either as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer.

I considered the diagnosis a death sentence.

John had been right. It would have been impossible – at least for me – to maintain that same kind of pace indefinitely. But I was handling it all pretty well and hadn’t sacrificed any of the top-shelf legal work that I did for my clients.

Something specific must have triggered otherwise dormant symptoms. At least it’s always seemed that way to me.

At the time, I was trench deep in reviewing seemingly never-ending evidence that federal prosecutors had turned over in a multi-state child-sex-trafficking case. I was having a hard time shaking an image my mind had created while reading through FD-302s and other investigation documents: a ten-year-old girl who’d been kidnapped and taken from her home state so that she could be sold out for sex. What was left of the child’s broken body had been found in a dumpster behind a grocery store across town. The poor kid had refused a bottom bitch’s order to let an over-the-road trucker rape her.

My little girl had been that age not too many years earlier.

.

.

Screenshot_20190813-001330.png

.

Whatever the cause or causes, I still considered my new bi-polar diagnosis a death sentence. For my career. For my life.

But men and women in white coats with their names embroidered on them told me that if I took my medications, saw a therapist and steered clear of drugs and alcohol, that my condition would no longer interfere with my life and my ability to practice law. This should be easy enough, I thought. Illegal drugs had never been a problem for me. And I hadn’t abused alcohol since I was in college.

I did everything the doctors told me to do. And I did it exactly as they had instructed. Between late Summer of 2004 and April of 2012 – seven years ago – my bipolar disorder cost me two jobs and forced me to close a private practice. BP severed relationships with those I cared about most, alienated friends and family, and put me in psychiatric hospitals seven times. My manic depression made me want to die more times than I can count.

[Even though I’ve not once thought of killing myself for almost six years, I remain wary. Bipolar disorder has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass. So I may again clutch a 38 revolver as i try to figure out how to make the smallest mess for folks to have to clean up. I my again stand on a sidewalk, struggling to make an educated guess as to optimal moment when I should step off the sidewalk and into the path of a bus traveling at 40 mph. If so, I hope I’ll do a better job remembering this analysis than I did that day in late March or early April of 2012, when I drew near to a jumping bridge on the Devil’s backbone.

“I can either kill myself, which would take me away from those who love me but it would stop the pain, or I can choose to live. If I am to live, I’m going to have to remember five important truths.

First, I am not alone with this illness. And the lawyer who filled himself with buckshot is not alone either. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are among more than fifteen million people (statistic needs updating) who suffer from severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder during a given year. As my medical expert explained it to jurors some years ago, people with bipolar disorder can rise to the very top of their profession. And, the physician explained, we’re talking about people with household names.

A second fact I need to remember is that there are organizations out there to help me and my loved ones. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) are just two of the groups dedicated to helping individuals and their families cope with what can be a disabling condition. Crisis hotlines exist in many cities for those who think they can’t go on.

That there have been profound pharmaceutical advances is a third truth I should keep in mind if I am to avoid becoming just another statistic. I need to remember that some of my medications have helped me live and work as well as anyone else. It’s just that sometimes the medications need changing. Yes, I become weary as the doctors try to find one or more that works. But the science of treating brain disorders has allowed medications to target parts of the brain with increased focus and efficacy. The likelihood that medications will again help me function is greater if I just let the doctors continue their work.

The fourth truth I should remember about bipolar disorder is that it has forced me to stop and ask if my career is consistent with my passion in this life. Years before many ask the question, I have the opportunity to ask “what am I here for?” and to change direction while there is still time.

[Now, I maintain a perfectly good Tennessee law license. And before that I had a perfectly good Oklahoma law license. There’s never been reason to investigate me for professional misconduct. And even though bipolar disorder can be a fast track to a criminal record, I still don’t have a criminal record. But even so,] bipolar disorder has given me a fifth issue to consider.

Manic-depressive illness has forced me to look deep inside and find my worth in who I am and not in what I do. It’s not easy. Ours is a society that tells people they count if they work in professions that others think matter. That is, the more others pay for someone, the greater that person’s worth.

But I have a worth separate and apart from what others say or pay. I have worth because the Divine says so – because God says so – and because I am part of the human family. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the greatest difficulty is that men do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is that they are sacrificing when they follow in a herd, or when they cater for their establishment.” Bipolar Disorder has forced me to see the truth in Emerson’s statement. It has forced me to tell the establishment that it will no longer define my worth.

Strange as it sounds, bipolar disorder has given me a reason to live.

.

Screenshot_20190808-235316.png

.

Screenshot_20190813-123313

.

.

screenshot_20190620-144006_hancom office editor7356037015652063365..jpg

Five Finger Death Punch

WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN – scrolling list of resources for past and present mil

Wrong Side of Heaven + resources for all past and present military personnel

BLUE ON BLACK. The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefitFirst Responders.

Official music video for Blue On Black (feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert & Brian May) by Five Finger Death Punch. Stream or Download:https://5fdp.ffm.to/blueonblack

Proceeds from this song to be donated to The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefit First Responders. If you are considering donating yourself then you can do so by visiting – https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/

Screenshot_20190812-231605.png

The Fighter
C.J. Chivers
After graduating in January 1988, Chivers served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated from the United States Army’s Ranger School, served in the first Gulf War and in peacekeeping operations during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 before being honorably discharged as a captain in 1994.[5] Chivers graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism a year later.[6]
Screenshot_20190812-232427.png
FAST COMPANY
Tracking The Lives Of Veterans To Figure Out Where They Slip Through TheCracks
About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that number is probably far higher if you factor in those less than honorably and dishonorably discharged, which the VA doesn’t include in its statistics.
In general, these deaths often have contributing factors that are recognized in hindsight, say, depression or substance abuse, and maybe access to a firearm. But that doesn’t really tell much about who the person was or how they interacted with their community.
A $3.5 million research initiative led by the nonprofit veteran services group America’s Warrior Partnership, along with the University of Alabama and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, aims to change that by first tracking all of the local-level risk factors that lead to veteran suicides, and then creating a holistic plan to help communities prevent more of them.
Jim Lorraine, the president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), considers this a new kind of sorely needed battle plan. By his count, there are 21 million former military service people in America, but the VA only serves about half that number. “It’s a general way to say it, but we can move from fishing for those veterans who might take their life, to hunting for [them],” he says. (Lorraine is the former Deputy Command Surgeon for the United States Special Operations Command, so prone to militaristic terminology.)

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Re Bad Paper: Legal Services Center, Harvard University, National Veterans Legal Services Program, & Swords to Ploughshares. (2016, March). Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.

https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/liman/document/underserved_liman_program.pdf

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[PLEASE NOTE: Late last year, President Trump and the Congress made sure that the VA provides short-term mental health services to veterans in crisis but who are not receiving services from the VA. For more info, contact:]
The VA encourages those who need help to reach out: “Veterans, Service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.” https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/
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(GREAT BRITAIN / UK) All Call Signs is a peer-to-peer communication app for Veterans and serving Military Personnel. Our chat service is manned by volunteers who have served in The Forces and understand the stresses and struggles that come with daily life in and out of uniform. If life is getting you down and you need someone to speak to, hit the chat button below. We’re here.

https://allcallsigns.org/

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https://combatresearchandprose.com/2019/07/07/combatresearchandprose-introduction-to-new-source-for-real-world-research-products-created-with-policy-makers-in-mind/

From Strifeblog: “What this woman knew all too well was that her husband was still paying [] the lifelong cost of war. [] A man who did what his country asked of him and who now suffered in silence like a lot of other veterans.

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Henry: a wounded soldier forgotten by all in an American jail – by all except his brothers who fell beside him in Vietnam
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[Excerpt from “Henry” follows:]

 

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Hostile holidays? Give Sir Anthony Hopkins two minutes in Spielberg’s Amistad: a source to turn to when “there appears no hope at all”

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, as John Quincy Adams presenting oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States, in Amistad (1997). This two-and-a-half minute clip reminds us of an oft-forgotten well from which we might draw courage when “there appears no hope at all.”

“The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together, and he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende—that’s his people—how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he evokes his ancestors . . . tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirit of one’s ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams . . . we have long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps, we have feared in doing so, we might acknowledge that our individuality, which we so, so revere, is not entirely our own. Perhaps, we’ve feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But we’ve come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, that we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding, that who we are is who we were. We desperately need your strength and wisdom, to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.”

 

Legal citation for the real case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court:

The United States, Appellants, v. The Libellants And Claimants Of The Schooner Amistad, Her Tackle, Apparel, And Furniture, Together With Her Cargo, And The Africans Mentioned And Described In The Several Libels And Claims, Appellees, 40 U.S. 518; 10 L. Ed. 826 (1841).

 

Feature image attribution: Battle Bare for PTSD and Military Suicide, accessed online 21 November 2018 at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/292734044500114364/

 

 

Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

48,000* paths to homelessness?

The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm recently testified that there are more than 48,000 state and federal “collateral consequences” in the United States. These “hidden costs” of criminal convictions ar exactly what I was talking about when I wrote this on STRIFEBLOG in August:
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“You do the best you can, though, because you swore you would and because the outcome of a criminal case – regardless of whether a client goes to prison – frequently inflicts significant consequences on the lives and fortunes of not just your client but also your client’s family. A criminal conviction, the criminal record that follows it, and any collateral consequences from the conviction, e.g., loss of professional license, reduction in amount of VA disability compensation, termination of VA pension payments, deportation, denial of access to public housing and federal student aid, etc., can hurt and even destroy families.”

 

Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism

“Since most ex-offenders—millions of them—at some point will be released from custody and return to our communities, it is important that we do everything we can to encourage them to become productive, law-abiding members of society and that we not put too many impediments, in the form of excessive collateral consequences, in their way that will hinder their efforts.

“More attention must be paid to this issue to avoid these dangerous and counterproductive results. In a time of intense polarization, this is one of the few issues people can rally around and find common ground. If people are pushed into the corner and denied opportunities for gainful employment and a stable environment for too long, they will have little choice but to recidivate. It is not in anybody’s best interest to relegate the formally incarcerated to a backwater of second-class citizenship status.”

John Malcolm. Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Heritage Foundation.

https://www.heritage.org/testimony/collateral-consequences-protecting-public-safety-or-encouraging-recidivism-0

*TITLE OF POST includes “48,000” in an effort to keep the message clear. Far too many of those 48,000 can shatter a family and thrust moms and dads and kids into homelessness but certainly not all of them.

Veterans’ Treatment Court allows career Army sergeant to include yoga in five-year plan

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

Following is excerpted from Connected Warriors website: https://connectedwarriors.org/warrior-testimonials/

Nikki Prodromos

SERGEANT FIRST CLASS

“My name is Nikki Prodromos and I found Connected Warriors Yoga because drinking to cope with my three combat tours landed me in Veterans’ Treatment Court after having a few too many and getting behind the wheel. I have 21 enlisted years in the Army, serving active duty from ’95-’99 and joining the Reserves after September 11th. After each combat tour, I came home a little more anxious, a little more depressed, and a lot more withdrawn. At my lowest point, I couldn’t leave my apartment to check my mail and would ‘rally’ two days a month to attend battle assemblies and honor my reserve commitment but, I would pick up a 12 pack on the way home.

“Veterans’ Treatment Court required me to write a five-year plan in which I included attending yoga, for several reasons. First, the plan required a physical exercise element and as a 70% disabled veteran, this was one of my few viable options. Second, I tried yoga a few years ago and loved how I felt after my practice. Third, my Veterans’ Treatment Court mentor handed me a CW yoga flier and I found out it was free…which was about all my budget could afford last year. Finally, I’m two semesters shy of my master’s degree in Performance/Sport Psychology and know that the healing power of yoga has been proven time and time again. Boy, did I need some healing!”

Following description of a yoga class at Ft. Campbell is excerpted from Connected Warriors website: https://connectedwarriors.org/warrior-testimonials/

Michael, MSG – U.S. ARMY VETERAN WITH 17 YEARS IN SERVICE

“Three years ago a retired Army Command Sergeant Major invited me to a Connected Warriors yoga class at Fort Campbell. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about going to an unfamiliar activity that I perceived as new age stretching for women. Walking in the room, I was surprised to find such an eclectic group of participants from all different age groups, genders, body types, and fitness levels. Many had some type of knee, shoulder, or back injury – battle wounds from a dedicated life of service. Much to my surprise, the class was an intense workout that challenged my strength, balance, and flexibility. I found myself returning each week to learn new postures and for the challenge of pushing myself to the edge. During that year, I noticed physical changes such as my knee no longer swelling after long runs and ruck marches, increased inner core strength, and an overall improvement in my level of fitness.”

Per Connected Warriors:

“The Connected Warriors mission is to empower Servicemembers, Veterans and their Families worldwide through Trauma-Conscious Yoga.”

“Thanks to our synergistic partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Connected Warriors is at the forefront of clinical studies on yoga’s positive effects. Out of every dollar we raise, 92¢ cents goes into our programs in 9 countries worldwide, 24 states, and Washington D.C.”

 

Two Vietnam veterans talk about the Connected Warriors program in 2011 South Florida article re former sex crimes and homicide prosecutor who left to teach yoga full time:

“I always thought that yoga had something to do with meditation, but I didn’t know it was so strenuous,” said Vietnam veteran Curtis Hodge Jr., 66, a Lauderhill retiree. He said a weekly class with Frankel has helped him sleep through the night for the first time in 40 years.

“This is not a sissy thing, you know,” Hodge said.

Fellow Vietnam veteran Tom Turnberger, 63, a former Marine, praised Frankel’s non-critical manner. “He goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcome,” said Turnberger, of Plantation. “He said he appreciates what we’ve done as veterans, and that is not something those of us who served in Vietnam heard a lot.

“I don’t know how this works, but it gives me a sense of calm,” he added. “I’ve been searching for this.”

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/health/fl-xpm-2011-08-03-fl-yoga-for-vets-20110730-story.html

 

Feature image accessed 4 December 2018 at https://connectedwarriors.org/warrior-testimonials/

 

Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200

Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

Don’t abandon our female veterans to staggering risk of suicide, urge an American Soldier and a U.S. Marine

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

allcallsigns.org graphic 263 x 182 accessed google images 4 September 2018A QUICK WORD FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND RE INFORMATION THAT FOLLOWS THIS POST: “We’re shit at talking. It’s time to change that. All Call Signs is a peer-to-peer communication app for Veterans and serving Military Personnel. Our chat service is manned by volunteers who have served in The Forces and understand the stresses and struggles that come with daily life in and out of uniform. “

 

“Don’t abandon our female veterans to staggering risk of suicide.”

[Please note: since this opinion piece came out last year, the VA has clarified that its reported veteran suicide data include, and have included, active-duty, guard, and reserve in addition to separated veterans (June 2018).]

The following is an excerpt from a 27 September 2017 opinion piece by a couple of veterans who know what they’re talking about:

Paula Broadwell is the director of the Think Broader Foundation, a co-host of On Point Women Warrior Writing Workshops, and an Army veteran.

Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas is an assistant professor of Public Health at Charleston Southern University and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran

. . .

“Of the 40,000 veteran organizations offering services, a minute number have proposed these programs and even fewer have offered funding for existing initiatives. Even the big national non-profits that are focused on veteran support initiatives have a dearth of programs that are exclusive to women. Corporations who might support these programs seem unmoved by the statistics. We’ve been told frequently and verbatim by corporate funding entities that “they have sponsored their woman’s event for the year.”  Checking the box isn’t going to save female veterans lives any more than simply tweeting about the problem does.

“Improving access to women-specific programming matters for many reasons, not in the least because opening up in group therapy sessions with men who may have dismissed women’s service or even been perpetrators of harassment or assault can be difficult if not impossible, so many women opt out of co-ed programming and therapy altogether.”

“Earlier this year, Paula co-hosted with fellow service women a “women warriors writing workshop” in Tampa, Fla. The published mission was to provide skills training to aspiring female veteran historians, memoirists, novelists, and op-ed writers. Our implied mission, however, was to help create small tribe and provide mental health support for our sisters in need.

“Besides learning of their valor, adventures and inevitable mishaps along the way, several common issues surfaced in our discussions:

  1. Most women said they had never been a room with all female veterans in the past.
  2. Many women, including one of the authors of this column, had experienced depression or suicide ideation following some trauma in life but had avoided seeking VA help.
  3. All of them were eager for support and connectivity but many were challenged to find it in their civilian lives.
  4. Many of us feel our voices don’t matter; just look at the Army Chief of Staff’s recent recommended reading list (one of 115 authors is a woman, despite the plethora of excellent literature by female academics and historians.)”

[end of excerpt]

http://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/352728-dont-abandon-americas-female-veterans-to-staggering-risk-of-suicide#

These experts urge:

And to our sisters in arms, please reach out if you need help.

“If you or someone you know is at immediate risk for suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.”

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/military-crisis-line

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis

 

union-jack-with-royal-crest-250 x 147A new military chat service has been launched by two veterans who say “we’re sh*t at talking and it’s killing us.”

 

 

Depression-DNI-SFW_0 image with Forces Radio story re allcallsigns.org 800 x 450

The following is taken verbatim from online content to accompany a 4 September 2018 broadcast on Forces Network BFBS Radio (this image accompanies the story.)

https://www.forces.net/radio/all-call-signs-veterans-fighting-your-mental-health

A new military chat service has been launched by two veterans who say “we’re sh*t at talking and it’s killing us.”

The former soldiers’ battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inspired them to set up a new peer to peer chat support network to help those struggling with mental health.

All Call Signs co-founders Steven James and Dan Arnold both served with The Second Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and created All Call Signs amid concerns over high waiting times for mental health services and a growing number of veteran suicides.

In the audio clip below Forces Radio BFBS Aldershot’s Natasha Reneaux caught up with the friends and first spoke to Steven to find out about the tri-service support network.
“We’ve got 60 plus users at the moment who are all ex-military, have all been in the same shoes as the people that are calling in.

“They understand the language; they’ve been in the same places so they get it.”

The ethos and mission statement of All Call Signs is “camaraderie in the face of adversity, whether in uniform or out.”

All Call Signs isn’t like a call centre. When someone clicks the Chat Now button you’re automatically connected to a volunteer via WhatsApp.

The volunteers have all served so understand what life is really like in the military.
“Once you’ve made that connection, you’ve got someone to chat to whenever you just need a pick me up…

“You can check up on each other and make sure you’re doing OK.”

However, this isn’t just a text service. The initial contact via WhatsApp can develop into a phone or video call, whatever the user feels most comfortable with.

It’s not just a service you can find on WhatsApp.

All Call Signs launched their Beacon, an AI-powered geo-location search assistance app in September which is already being embraced and used by the military community they are here to help.

The aim is for people to subscribe to Beacon on Facebook Messenger so that if a vulnerable member of the military community goes missing they will be sent an alert.
“Getting boots on the ground in response to an at risk person going off the radar can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“Our hope is that Beacon will prevent a lot of the misinformation and confusion that has hindered search efforts in the past.”

All Call Signs is designed to complement and not replace what’s already available for veterans.

Dan and Steve were increasingly becoming aware of suicides within the veteran community and felt like something more needed to be done to support the vulnerable members of their military family.

“There’s fantastic support out there with agencies like Combat Stress, The Royal British Legion and Hague Housing.

If you want to volunteer your time or are interested in looking after your mental health visit http://www.allcallsigns.org

https://allcallsigns.org/

 

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative that will continue to contribute to bridging the gap in experience, knowledge, and understanding that divides those who’ve never served under arms from those who have. He’s the civilian son and grandson of veterans and a lawyer who’s spent most years arguing criminal and constitutional issues in America’s state and federal trial and appellate courts. His most recent publication chronicles a tragic story that a former client asked him to tell, from his deathbed:   

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam