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Roman J. Israel, Esq.: Assembly line, rubber stamp prosecution affecting peers.

Guest commentary, reprinted with kind permission of Steve’s Thoughtcrines.

Watch this movie, give it some thought.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_J._Israel,_Esq.

This is movie not seen widely enough. This speaks to a truth in criminal justice that goes unspoken because “bargaining” from an “overcharge” is what DAs and defense choose rather than actually doing the work. Keeping the court dockets light is preferable to giving every person their day in court. And people admit to crimes they DIDN’T commit for fear of incarceration for decades, to secure a “smaller sentencing.”

For crimes they didn’t commit.

Add to that DAs receiving “bonuses” for every conviction, say in zero-tolerance domestic violence cases, where in years past “he said/she said” cases wouldn’t even be considered for prosecution. With the funding incentive for every conviction, any police report mentioning anything that can construed as “domestic violence” is charged (a man in Albuquerque was sentenced for throwing a roll of toilet paper against the wall, which never hit his wife), and every charge is fed into the “bargaining overcharge” machine because that’s the way it works.

People admitting to crimes they didn’t commit to receive a reduced sentence.

Again: For a crime they didn’t commit.

And too many of these coerced admissions are peers, peers without the financial resources to build a strong, dedicated defense.

And where are civil rights law entities like Disability Rights New Mexico in all of this? Complicity nowhere to be found.

I worked many years in jail diversion for peers. This is yet another way peers are victimized by a justice system unaware of peer suffering from systemic societal neglect.

Watch the movie, think it through.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

For those of us who suck at killing themselves and thusly are reading this, EVERY DAY is suicide preventation day.

I’m stoked you’re here. I’m stoked I’m here. Let’s help each other keep it that way.

#mentalhealthawareness
#suicideprevention
#depression
#bipolardisorder
#peersupportgroup
#standuptostigma

STS Online Mental Health Support Group – Monday through Friday – COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t mean we have to be alone.

STAND UP TO STIGMA IS HOLDING ONLINE PEER SUPPORT GROUPS FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Support Groups by Peers and for Peers.

All times are Mountain Time Zone (GMT -7)

Monday
12:00PM to 1:30PM

Tuesday
12:00PM to 1:30PM

Wednesday
7:00PM to 8:30PM

Thursday
7:00PM to 8:30PM

Friday
7:00PM to 8:30PM

– STS is using Google Hangouts for our online support groups. You will need a free Google account to join the online groups.

– That day’s online group Hangouts link is provided on the homepage of our two STS websites, 30 minutes before group begins.

http://dbsaalbuquerque.org

http://standuptosrigma.org

– The daily Hangouts link is also available to subrscribers of the STS Community Beacon email list.

http://standuptostigma.org/sts-community-beacon/

– Facilitators open the support group 15 minutes prior to group start time.

– You can join the group at any time. You don’t need to show up at the start of group.

We hope to see you! We don’t have to be alone.

Opinion: COVID-19 & The MacGuyver Challenge

This article originally appeared on Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

Yesterday I challenged folks to stop bitching about Trump and, for that matter, all worthless political noise … just set aside partisan bullshit and focus all energies on helping your community instead.

To this solution, my physicist friend and I (a geochemist) have been developing a renewable personal filtration mask that can be easily constructed using everyday consumer items … items that haven’t been wiped out in panic buying and items readily available and items difficult to wipe out in panic buying.

Heck, I can mine one item from a quarry ten miles from me. And it’s ready to use straight from the ground.

We have three really great ideas, the most viable being one that relies upon a microwave oven and a rotating collection of reusable hydratable tectosilicates.

Here’s the objective:

1.) Identify a strained community need.

2.) Create the solution.

3.) Share.

We’re calling this “The MacGyver Challenge.”

What are some other community needs?

– Childcare for working parents while the schools are closed.

– Food and supply delivery for those who are self-quarantined for their health and safety.

– Entertainment!

– Opportunities for people to connect because isolation is dangerous for many.

– Ways to keep our community economy strong.

It’s important to understand my mate and I are doing our project open source. What’s the point of a community pandemic solution that isn’t altruistic? If you know the advocacy stuff I do, this makes perfect sense. Same idea.

My friend and I have our solution underway. The MacGuyver Challenge awaits one and all!


P S. – My physicist friend is 80 years old. My Dad is 80 years old. My friend hates Trump. I nothing Trump.

Rock on.

Opinion: Is it fair to compare Suicide to Coronavirus?

by Steve Bringe

Circulating the past few weeks are a number of comparisons of the death tolls from suicide versus COVID-19 (coronavirus). This is an unfair measurement. Let me explain why.

COVID-19 is a novel infectious virus identified less than three months ago. If anything, the comparison is of DEATH RATE and not BODY COUNT.

But COVID-19 hasn’t run its initial infectious course. More people are surely to die from COVID-19 in the coming weeks if not months. How many people and how quickly? The current data populations cannot project either death rate or body count.

The only useful metric of COVID-19 is the ever-evolving R-naught which has no equivalent suicide metric.

The COVID-19 R-naught is 3.0, up from an early value of 1.2. This is highly infectious, at least as infectious as its coronavirus cousin, SARS. And thus far, the number of deaths from COVID-19 is outpacing SARS in its first three recorded months.

Right now, it’s premature to use COVID-19 as a side-by-side similarity for suicide rates and totals. This data on COVID-19 doesn’t exist and any quantitative claim of how much worse suicide is compared to COVID-19 isn’t accurate or possible. This comparison of suicide to COVID-19 is providing misinformation that lessens the true by-the-numbers impact of suicide.

Too many peoole die by suicide. I’ve tried myself. Unquestionably, advocacy and education about suicide is crucial. It’s just there are other more useful and more valid ways to continue bringing awareness to the tragedy of suicide without piggybacking on a highly visible – and highly disparate – ongoing public health concern like COVID-19.


Image: CDC.gov

Reprinted with kind permission of Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

STS program “MSIMRJ” rechristened “My Recovery Expedition”

“Recovery Journey” had become so cliché. I’m changing things up for STS education programs. “Milestones in My Recovery Journey” is renamed “My Recovery Expedition.”

It’s got weight and momentum. It’s less clumsy. And, we haven’t published physical media for this year. Words are cool.

I briefly toyed with “Recovery Safari” … and it somehow seemed slightly culturally insensitive in that way fusion cuisine seems slightly cultural insensitive.

Peers create their own solutions

by Steve Bringe

Unintentionally finding myself involved in behavioral health peer advocacy illuminated a universal truth:


It’s not enough to point out what’s wrong. As peers we must create own our solutions because no one else is going to do it for us.


It’s been an advocacy guiding principle for me and it’s been working out just fine.

Reprinted with kind permission of Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

Guilt won’t save me. Guilt gives me reason to let go.

by Steve Bringe

I have no fondness for this sentiment. To wit, I firmly believe this sentiment is irresponsible and dangerous to peers at the brink of killing themselves.

If ever you’ve been suicidal you’ll quickly empathize. If not, then perhaps shared insight can help you understand.

You see, when I’m at my worst and suicidal, and already feeling worthless and underserving of love, a burden upon my loved ones with a mind lying to me with artificial thoughts like “They’re better off without me,” this sentiment only proves my point to my diseased mind.


Suicide doesn’t take away the pain. It gives it to someone else.


Guilt won’t save me. Guilt gives me reason to let go.

Reprinted with kind permission of Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

The words and guidance of Dr. Chris Morris are a cornerstone to my peer advocacy

This is an important photo in my recovery journey and the advocacy stuff I do.

Taken at Behavioral Health Day at the New Mexico State Capitol Building (aka “The Roundhouse”) in 2012, this was my first full term as president of DBSA Albuquerque. The photo is of me (obviously) and Dr. Chris Morris, then with Optum Health.

DBSA Albuquerque had a table for the event and Chris dropped by to say hi. When the crowd thinned out a bit, Chris asked to have a private word with me.

By this point early on in peer advocacy, I was fairly well-networked and fairly well-known as a peer advocate. And, it was already a thing I was torquing off prominent stakeholders who’d been in the community much longer than the two years I’d been around.

So Chris pulled me aside and said, “Steve, you know you’re making people mad and upset, right?”

Sadly, I knew this. And it was a mystery as to why.

Chris then said, “Why should anyone be mad at you? What are you doing wrong? You create new support groups, you hold peer focus groups for advisement, you bring peers to meetings so they can have a direct voice, you set up peer education events, you write opinion pieces and letters to anyone you feel can help peers, you hold community education developed and presented by peers. Why should anyone be angry with you? You’re not doing anything but trying to help peers be empowered.

“This is the reason: You are threatening people’s power, money, or both. You are outside their influence and they can’t control you. This is why people are angry with you.”

Wow. A bit of a gut-punch to hear that. I really was naive early on.

Chris then offered advice which is a cornerstone to how I approach advocacy to this day. Chris said this:

“Don’t stop doing things your way. If you do, then you’ll put yourself where others can control you … and stop you.”

These words mean everything to me and are a constant reminder to keep straight on what my friends are saying and the goals I hope to accomplish. Chris’ words are also a reminder of how limiting bureaucracy is and how building new, novel solutions to peer needs is more efficient and successful than trying to fix broken systems.

Chris’ words also guided me to the very foundation of how I view behavioral health advocacy:

The enemy of innovation is asking for permission.

And, yes, I still piss people off. And, yes, people still try to stop me.

Dr. Chris Morris is a hero of mine. With complete sincerity. Thank you, Chris.

The quirky, unpredicted, amusing, and heartwarming meteoric rise of Dr. Drew

Articles such as this, where Dr. Drew Pinsky is a lauded medical celebrity, are a quirky lineage of “Way Back In My Day” and “Who Could’ve Predicted This?”

Dr. Drew: We have to treat mental illness to fix homelessness

I remember when Dr. Drew, a surgeon, was invited onto the radio show Love Line hosted by Jim “The Poorman” Trenton on KROQ 106.7 FM out of Pasadena, California. This was in the mid-80s and Love Line was worth staying up until midnight on Sunday and risking detention for passing out asleep during chemistry and setting the lab ablaze through unmonitored exothermic faux pas easily avoided had I remained awake. Totally worth it.

Love Line had mainly teens calling in to talk about their romantic struggles.

  • Guy thinks I’m ugly and it’s breaking my heart.
  • Do I masturbate in the locker room too much (always “yes”)?
  • My boyfriend found out I’m dating his dad’s mother’s uncle.

Poorman and whoever he had guesting – usually band members – had fun with the callers, essentially a real time tongue in cheek Dear Abby.

The show grew in popularity and callers began bringing up topics like pregnancy, STDs, birth control, etc. The show started becoming a venue to get medical information and (limited) advice. Poorman and friends couldn’t field these topics, so KROQ brought in Dr. Drew.

Love Line hosted by Poorman on KROQ 106.7 FM in the mid-80s … this is where Dr. Drew got his start as a medical guru media celebrity.

It’s a quirky lineage from the 80s to here and now, so articles like this where Dr. Drew is revered as a social-medical advisory icon are tempered by my high school Sunday night ritual of listening to Love Line on my clock radio until midnight. It’s amusing and heartwarming seeing Dr. Drew as a trusted and influential voice of medical advocacy, thinking back on his humble beginnings as a surgeon brought on to a Sunday late night radio show to answer teen questions about crabs.


Epilogue: Truth. I did set the chemistry lab aflame falling asleep after listening to Love Line the night before. The statute of limitatons is long past so I’m golden talking about this freely. In the immortal words of MC Hammer:

“Where did all my money go?”

Also:

“Can’t touch this.”

Reprinted with kind permission of
Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.