Category Politics & Government

SUICIDES LIKELY TO SPIKE BECAUSE OF COVID-19 – copy

(This Op-Ed appears this date in the Florida Today newspaper.

 

When researching sources for an article about the impact of coronavirus on mental health problems in America, I didn’t realize the enormity of this issue.

     Naturally, concerns would affect millions of Americans, but the stark figures about the suicide problem, via addiction, poverty, joblessness and depression, are far more serious than anticipated. A 650-word essay can barely touch on a subject which is socially, medically and governmentally immense.

     Here are a few aspects about the pandemic’s impact and how it affects our nation’s state of mental health, derived from a Washington Post article on May 4th.

  • According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of Americans claim the current crisis is injurious to their mental health.
  • A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered more than a one-thousand percent increase in April of this year, compared to 2019.
  • On-line therapy company, Talkspace, reports a 65 percent jump in clients since February.
  • Of the trillions of dollars congress has allocated to fight COVID-19, only a pittance has been directed toward mental health.

     What else could we expect? Mental illness is difficult to measure, though we may be surrounded by sufferers without realizing the scope until a tragedy occurs. Then it’s too late. Mental illness, which often leads to suicide, cannot be touched, seen, felt or tallied.

     There are few gauges to provide measurements in the psychologic forum. In the prison system, mental health facilities and dysfunctional families are awash with unbalanced men and women of all ages, races and education, who are dangerous to themselves and others. Jails and prisons are ill-equipped to tackle the problem. That’s often where mental problems worsen while America looks the other way.

     What we do know is that 124,000 Americans have died in just the last three months from coronavirus and 2.4 million have been infected by the disease. In April of this year, the New York Times reports the jobless rate exploding to over 20 million in four weeks. While the powers within leadership handle matters with science and government resources, and trillions of dollars, there’s little that can be done for the millions of grief-stricken and/or destitute people other than require masks and distancing rules, while we all become prisoners of our own abode. For some, that’s a recipe for stark depression.

     The government has handed out relief funds, but jobless victims and their families continue to deal with poverty, grief from loss, homelessness, joblessness, and self-pity, where the sick get sicker and nowhere to turn. This doesn’t even address the millions of those addicted to drugs and alcohol, living virtually on the edge.

     It is reasonable to expect soaring numbers of suicide victims when the stats finally come in. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Americans killed themselves over 48,000 times in 2018, or one victim every 11 minutes. That’s likely to double. At present, statistics for 2020 are not available, though trends tell us a huge spike in self-killing can be expected. Early data from the Disaster Distress Helpline reports a 338% increase in call volume in March 2020, when government mandates went into effect, compared to February .

     Having investigated my share of suicides in Miami over thirty years, (hundreds) I learned that the majority are brought about by enormous despair whether from medical illness, addiction or emotional distress. Losing jobs, self-support, loved ones, personal freedom and basics like food and shelter with no relief in sight, are certain triggers. When the numbers are counted, I’m sure we will see a sharp spike in self-killings in 2020 – the ultimate escape.

     When we, friends and families, witness such despair, we must try to do something to impede the suicide course. Impart love, care and support. Let disputes become bygones, because life is too precious to discard. Those who choose to end their lives will leave a trail of sorrow that never ends.

     I know.

The national Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit www.marshallfrank.com

 

 

COPS AND SYSTEMIC RACISM? AN UNTRUTH.

Before going any further, I hope my readers will absorb some of the scenes depicted in the following video.  It’s not about Hillary Clinton, but the chronic accusations against police who, every day, every year, occupy the front lines serving and protecting people. Insurgents would have us all believe that systemic racism is a product of a hate-filled white America and that police officers are the most serious violators. In truth, Hillary is just another politician who pandered to a large voting block, which is what politicians do…whether true or not. It’s the election that matters, not reality.

This is less than two minutes, but you’ll get the point.  Watch…

 

 

Dealing with violence is part of a cops job. Every day, especially in big cities, police are on guard, not only from physical harm, but by haters in general. Of course, there will always be incidents of conflict when police officers are doing their duty which translates to unwanted confrontations and, sometimes, lifelong consequences. Once in a great while, the situation gets out of control and people get hurt, from both sides of the tracks.

From all accounts, there is little doubt that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin committed a heinous crime, killing 46 year-old George Floyd unnecessarily. People on all sides of the political spectrum are rightfully outraged, but I have a major problem when anyone legitimizes out-of-control rioters and insurgents who engage in civil disorder by destroying property, buildings, cars and homes. They are not protesters, as the media calls them. They are criminals as well. Who is there to protest the protesters?

Racism forever clouds the news and the facts when the racial make-up of a disputable incident occurs. Having lived the police life for 30 years in a hot-bed like Miami, I am confident in saying that racial motives for killing situations is extremely rare.  When a case erupts like George Floyd’s, (which does not look good) I would surmise there’s probably far more to that story that has yet been revealed.  Violent protesters are generally rooted from various anti-American organizations hell-bent on destroying or conquering our nation from within, as many have promised, including radical Islam, hard-core socialists and the far left, communists. If anyone really thinks these insurgencies are spontaneous, I’ve got some palm trees to sell in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Though cops respond to hazardous situations every day, (Every Day!) relatively few result in death. 800,000 police officers from some 18,000 law enforcement agencies serve people of all ethnic and racial make-ups. If only one-tenth of one percent of cop-related deaths were determined to be criminal, we must also consider the millions of dangerous calls they respond to yearly. FBI sources tell us that police make over 10 million arrests per year. 

     The 9-1-1 system handles 500,000 (average) calls a day. It’s not surprising that a wayward cop may emerge now and then. But that’s no excuse for violently seizing and ruining the lives of innocent citizens and public servants.

     Consider these stats:

  • In a 28-year study by the Department of Justice, blacks accounted for 52.5 percent of all homicides. Whites: 45.3 percent. The offending rate for blacks has been nearly eight times that of whites. That’s not a racist conclusion, it’s a fact.
  • Per the Department of Justice, over a ten-year period, blacks accounted for 57 percent of gun murders. Blacks make-up 13 percent of America. Are the FBI statisticians racist?
  • According to the Bureau of Justice, blacks comprise nearly 37 percent of the nation’s prison population, while 12.5 percent of the general population.
  • Author/journalist, Heather McDonald’s recent article in the Washington Post concludes, the police fatally shot 9 unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019. Those unarmed black victims, makeup 0.1 percent of all African Americans killed in 2019. Systemic?  I think not.

     Some reporters never fail to remind us about past police behavior, as if to suggest “white” cops belong to some nationwide cabal to kill black people. That’s absurd. It’s simply not true. Perhaps in 1950, but not in 2020. We must be cautious and vigilant against wrongfully attaching racial connotations to any action, whether by police or civilians.

There is no evidence to conclude that Trayvon Martin’s death in 2014 was truly an episode of racism. Same with Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson and many others. We, the citizens, must stop the automatic attachment of racial connotations to every mixed race killing. And the media must do their share of reporting the truth, rather than stirring hatred through biased reporting.

     I was a cop in Miami-Dade for thirty years, and I can tell you, unequivocally, that ALL lives matter. It is an insult to whites, Asians, Latinos to constantly allude to black lives mattering, when in fact, all of us matter.

*     *     *

My 15 published books are available at amazon.com.  Signed copies can be purchased via my web site:  www.marshallfrank.com

 

MICHELLE LIKELY TO RUN AS VP RUNNING MATE

As the Democratic VP prize is nearing the next election, there is a lot of speculation about which woman Biden will select.  (After all, he did promise to appoint a woman)
I’ve been writing about this for three years. Most folks think I’m nuts, after all, she has no in-office experience.  Holding office doesn’t matter, it’s winning that matters…even if it’s Daisy Mae or AOC.
Rush Limbaugh took to his radio show today and predicted that Michelle Obama will be Biden’s running mate, and how that would assure Obama of another 8 years, defacto, in the Oval Office again. I felt like calling Rush and ask if he gleaned that from me.
Then I recalled writing my own predictions 2 and 3 years ago.  Here are the articles:
(Note: Item #2)
PREDICTIONS 2017 | Marshall Frank
Also, in 2018, I had predicted that Michelle Obama will be the likely VP running mate, or presidential nominee, regardless who led the field. Check it out:
MICHELLE OBAMA STRONGEST 2020 DEM. CANDIDATE – Op-Ed | Marshall Frank
And now, with the left-media behind her, the predictions are beginning to manifest.
It’s all about power.
Rush Limbaugh suggested that Biden might get elected with Michelle as #2, then resign after taking office. Anything is possible.
Your thoughts welcome.
 
MF
 

POLICE SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION

With cops’ suicide on the rise, we must recognize they suffer from depression too | Opinion

During my stint as a Miami-Dade cop from 1960 to 1990, I personally knew 10 officers who committed suicide.

The reasons varied from cop to cop, i.e., emotional issues at home, runaway debt, alcohol abuse, fears and pressures of the job, and more. But the one common thread, regardless of race, creed, culture, or wealth, is usually related to depression.

Yes. Cops have feelings too.

The last thing they want is for top brass to know they are suffering every day inside the mind and heart. They play a role as if nothing is wrong when, in fact, too many are a walking time bomb ready to explode. Such fears are kept secret.

An article in FLORIDA TODAY on Feb. 12 cited reliable sources about the alarming increase of suicides among police officers, with 734 taking their own lives between 2016 to 2019, according to Blue H.E.L.P.

Police officers who suffer mental problems should be identified so that they can be treated by professionals. Right? Not so fast. That can also end their coveted careers. They well know that. Cops who let their emotional imbalances be known, fear being transferred to undesirable assignments, or if recommended by professionals, outright termination. Bye-bye career. Bye-bye pension.

Yes, top brass is concerned about helping the officers, but they also worry about their responsibility to the public and their own image if and when they fail to take action.

Some officers are unable to cope with the stress, thereby creating more problems. Officers know that any signs of mental imbalance could result in new unwanted assignments, or even dismissal, if such secrets were disclosed.

One homicide supervisor fought fear, fights and trepidation every day on duty. He also tried handling an array of children (three adopted), a demanding spouse, runaway debts, daily domestic conflicts, too much alcohol each evening, a mentally ill son/addict by a previous marriage, not to mention a work load which totaled over 100 investigations a year. Among his cases were the infamous McDuffie case that led to the Miami riots of 1980 and the Mariel Boatlift right after.

He thought more about the kids, the stigma they would face and the need for professional help, however secret. A counseling psychologist named Doris entered his life and triggered a year of productive therapy.

Close call.

In today’s America, particularly in large communities, police officers face deadly hatred as routine. Folks in urban areas have learned how to taunt cops in hopes of inciting bad outcomes making them all look bad. In recent years, on-duty cops have been assaulted with barrels of water over their heads as nearby cell phones formed videos. They turned another cheek and kept walking, humiliated. At some street disturbances, officers have stood at attention while subjected to hooligans embarking on foul-mouthed screaming episodes directly into their eardrums. They had orders to look away and take it.

In North Florida, two deputies quietly eating their meal at a local restaurant in Gilchrist County were shot to death in 2018 by a cop-hating maniac for no other reason than being a cop. Brooklyn, New York, 2014, same outcome as two cops were shot to death while quietly sitting in their police car. Many other senseless cop shootings have resulted in officers surviving, but it certainly makes that theater of operations a dangerous place to be.

In 2019, 134 officers died in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2018, that number was 167 and in 2017, it was 176.

It’s no wonder that police suicides are on the upswing. Like most other career servants, these officers also have wants, goals and needs, and families with problems. Only, they carry a badge.

By the way, that homicide supervisor who sat in the driveway, gun in hand, was me. 

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.

police officers suffer from depression too (Florida Today)

STATISTICS, ENFORCEMENT AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE

Black Live Matter is a group that carries a lot of clout in the political-racial landscape in America. That’s obvious. What’s not obvious are the statistical facts about alleged racism in law enforcement and justice which shows that all people of all ethnic and racial bases can, and often are, holding prejudices. Of course, Black Lives do Matter, but that’s not to the exclusion of white, browns, Latinos, Asians, females, males, midgets and giants. We ALL matter.
     Too often we hear about terrible disparities in crime statistics and the justice systems in general, particularly as it pertains to race. Based on sheer numbers, it appears that these systems, comprising police, courts and prisons, are prejudiced against black people, invoking accusations of systemic racism at its worst. For the most part, it’s simply not true. Key word: “systemic.”
     Yes, statistics are grossly disproportionate. But there’s a reason. FBI and the Bureau of Justice reveal that over a period of 28 years, 1980 to 2008, over 52 percent of murders were committed by blacks, while 45 percent were by whites. Yet blacks comprise only 12.7 of the population, and black males only 6.3 percent. Thus, citing the sheer numbers of whites versus blacks in criminal research, lopsided population ratios has nothing to do with a racist system. It means a very small segment of the population is responsible for a disproportionate number of violent crimes. That’s just a fact.
     Statistics are not a valid gauge from which to judge fairness. If we were held to a ratio goal, based on demographics, females should occupy prison cells by 51 percent and males only 49 percent. But records tell us that only 10.5 percent of homicide convictions are female. Even more ridiculous is suggesting that males are unfairly targeted for sex crime arrests compared to females. Never mind, that 98.9 percent of all arrests for rape are males.
     Unfair? Should cops be arresting people according to population ratios pertaining to race and gender? Should half of those arrested for perpetrating rape, be women?
     Of course, that’s absurd. But so is claiming that the prison populations should comprise numbers in line with racial demographics.
    Some folks constantly invoke the bane of racism, which does more harm than good. That may be warranted in isolated cases, but not all. I recently engaged in a short debate with a local African-American attorney, compliments of Florida Today’s civility discussion program, in which the topic was the “Black Lives Matter” movement which suggests that too many cops are predisposed to systemic bias against blacks. The debate never addressed the origins of that movement which, in truth, had nothing to do with racial discrimination.
     “Black Lives Matter” spiraled from the 2014 shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, after he had just robbed a local store. When Officer Darren Wilson spotted two suspects walking on the roadway, he stopped and ordered them to get off the street. Big boy Brown charged the police car and sucker-punched the cop through the window, then attempted to wrest the officer’s pistol away. Imagine how surprised that cop was.
     Brown had committed serious felonies. As he turned away, the officer rightfully ordered the felon to stop, at gunpoint. Instead, Brown again charged the officer in a menacing manner. This mammoth “boy” stood over six feet and weighed over 300 pounds. Wilson fired. Brown died.
     Some media journalists used explosive terms emphasizing how the “child” was “unarmed,” which ignited the community into outrage. The shooting was ultimately deemed justified when a grand jury heard testimony from several eye witnesses, all black. Eric Holder, Attorney General, did not file federal charges because there were none validated.
     The town of Ferguson suffered riots causing damages to homes and businesses by the millions. The department was criticized for not having enough black officers, in contrast to demographics. Never mind, that most local young adult blacks could not qualify because of police records, or had no interest in being associated with law enforcement. It was tough to get young black males to apply.
     I understand that dilemma, having faced similar situations following the Miami riots of 1980.
     The Ferguson incident remains the poster case which elevated “Black Lives Matter” to prominence though based on a falsehood. Officer Wilson didn’t shoot Michael Brown because he was black. The “boy” had already assaulted and attempted to disarm the cop. And, the “boy” was huge.
     There’s always more to the story. Sure, there may be exceptions, but to blame crime’s lopsided statistics on actions taken by on-the-line officers as “systemic” racism is just not true. Not in today’s climate.
     Truth be told, ALL lives matter.