Homicide Isn’t “Uplifting”

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The title of this blog – such is the refrain of book store owners, Christian oriented businesses, coffee house venues etc.  What’s an author to do? They don’t get it!

Definition of Uplifting – “Morally or spiritually elevating; Inspiring happiness or hope”

People who are not impacted by crime cringe at the mere mention of murder. They may not watch the news as “It’s all bad.” “It makes me sad.” “I want to protect my children.”  Well, their “Candyland existence” does not work when pitted against the realities of life.

The key is balance – To expose ourselves and our children to the realities, to be proactive, but not be possessed or obsessed by the evils, to appreciate, to have empathy, to get involved with a cause that is related in order to change the world for the better!

Granted, it is very challenging for adults to make sense of the seeming random, senseless violence happening all around us.  How can we possibly explain to our children?  The act of murder, is not uplifting whatsoever. HOWEVER, the pathway to resolution and the positive byproducts in the aftermath can be very rewarding, enriching and give one’s life real purpose, and meaning that honors your loved one in a way you had never imagined! 

It does our children no favors to overexpose them to the chaos in our world. Nor does it prepare them for life in 2017 to “live in a bubble of your own unrealistic creation.”

Tips to bridge the Gap-

  • Know and appreciate resiliency- Point out examples to your children and try to model it in your own behavior and when you encounter difficult situations. Stress that life is not always happy, but that there is always a way to “find the sunshine on the other side” if you problem solve!
  • Use opportunities to make ourselves and our children aware within our community  “when bad things happen to good people” by participating in  fund raising events, vigils,  marathons, searches, rallies with a  hopeful, positive message;
  • Seize opportunities to meet others – even one person that has a different life experience as a result of crime and make a friend. Your local crime victim advocate may be able to pair you with a person who would best benefit from such a pairing.  Typically someone in the acute phases of grief may really needs someone to listen, not advice, (which can be intense). Alternately, if you meet them with much space and time between the crime and your meeting, you will gain much insight into how others cope…and still manage their life in spite of…It’s amazing what you will learn from such a relationship!
  • Instill hope in the aftermath of crime and tragedy, for that truly is God’s Grace at work;
  • Join a non-profit organization that needs volunteers in order to gain exposure and insight.  The positives far outweigh the crime itself when everyone is working toward a common goal.  Many talents and skills are needed – small and large, so don’t be shy!  You will receive far more than you give, guaranteed!   In addition, you often build lifelong relationships!  One fine example is the  repeated winner of Great Non-Profits.org- The Cue Center for Missing Persons- http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/about/
  • Reviews from Great Non-Profits –  Very Uplifting!  http://greatnonprofits.org/org/community-united-effort-cue

 

Other References –

https://www.amazon.com/Grief-Diaries-Surviving-Loss-Homicide/dp/1944328149

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/uplifting?s=t


DonnaGore-2

Donna R. Gore

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.co

Filing It Away, or Stirring it Up, Long Term Grief Does NOT Come with Instructions

Crime victim, compassion, Donna R. Gore

A recent Shattered Lives Radio podcast featured frequent guest, Duane Bowers, Licenced Professional Counselor (LPC).  I take pride in featuring cutting edge topics designed to assist victims of crime. Often the emotional pieces are never discussed. Families are mystified about how to deal with truly understanding grief and loss and how it applies to them.

In this podcast, Duane Bowers and I delve into long-term family relationships and the grief that remains. Does it get better or worse? Is grief and loss the tie that binds us so that down the road we are restored in a new way?

Below I pose a “laundry list” of intriguing questions, issues that may be reality or myth for what’s upcoming as you are invited to listen to this valuable show. You may even have a couple of revelations in the furtherance of understanding just what happens after a traumatic loss!

A Sample of What You Will Learn from this Podcast

  • The difference between grief and traumatic loss
  •  What it takes to feel in control
  • The roles family members take on after traumatic loss
  • Nurturing and the meaning and value assigned to an event
  • When the role of an advocate impacts someone who has “filed it away” and emotions get stirred up
  • Expectations in how to grieve
  • Your willingness to change and the effort required versus hanging on to the pain
  • When is the moment of death?
  • Resiliency models and communication styles
  • Will we become a more cohesive family with time, or not?
  • Grief and support resources

click to listen button1

 

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly


Further information about grief as a victim of crime is available in my book, Grief Diaries: Loss by Homicide, which includes the stories of others who, like you, are traveling this long journey.

Grief Diaries: Loss by Homicide

Donna R. Gore

 

To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

Crying to Cope with Loss

Crying to Cope with Loss

There are myths surrounding the behavior of crying. In American culture, typically crying is viewed as a sign of weakness when in public.  If you are a crime victim, you likely have “cried a river” over time as a means of emotional release and acknowledging your grief. Often the loss is so profound, pervasive, permanent and overwhelming, our bodies’ signal us that we must “let it out,” let the tears flow no matter what the circumstances.  In fact, there are several benefits of crying to share.

We are permitted to cry at weddings. We cry at funerals. We cry at graduations.

However, the most egregious examples of prohibiting crying come to mind when in the courtroom. Institutional decorum is forced upon victims by the criminal justice system when they are at their most vulnerable, using every ounce of strength just to maintain. This is a burdensome challenge and so unnatural. Is it somehow disrespectful to the judge and the court’s time to cry? Why?  Is the judge to be viewed as God Almighty? It’s as if we must be little more than a cardboard figure, a spectator, in the most important game of our lives!

A prominent example is offered here by my friend and colleague Attorney-Advocate Michelle S. Cruz.

In summary, during a very high-profile Massachusetts case in January 2015, a fallen Patriot’s football icon is put on trial for the killing of friend Odin Lloyd. (Although you would never have known about the victim, as the perpetual bad and dangerous “star,” Aaron Hernandez was always, center stage.)  Odin’s mother, Ursula Ward was scheduled to identify photographs of her son’s dead body while on the stand.  The wicked and heartless judge, Susan Garsh, cautioned her “not to cry, to control her emotions.” Had there not been emotion from this grieving mother, the jury surely would have gotten an incorrect impression. As Michelle states, there was no doubt as to whether the murder was committed, but the fact that Hernandez was the perpetrator.   Where was the basic human and victim right of respect and consideration afforded this mother? I believe it went out the window with the rest of the jurisprudence drivel!  I can so relate to this poor woman and what she had to endure.

 

Now on to the benefits of crying – truly!

The least known benefit would probably be a physiologic need- A study performed by Dr. William H. Frey II at the St Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre found that stress-related tears help your body rid itself of nasty chemicals that raise cortisol (the stress hormone). Emotional tears also contain more mood-regulating manganese than the other types. Stress tightens muscles and heightens tension, so when you cry you release some of that. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system and restores the body to a state of balance.”    So, it is good to “clean house” so to speak;

You can help ease the pain by freeing yourself of emotional baggage to start anew;

Other claims via my interpretation are: that crying helps you come to terms and perhaps move on from a loss. The act of crying may bring physical relief.  Crying demonstrates vulnerability and may foster a sense of intimacy with others.  It is said that expressing emotions facilitate your inner creativity too!

Another medically related crying is known as PBA – Pseudo-Bulbar Affect – or Emotional Incontinence – in which you exhibit involuntary bouts of uncontrollable crying or laughter.   This is a neurologic problem caused by brain damage such as a CVA- stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, ALS or dementia.  Approximately 2 million people are affected.

Finally, the Japanese are innovators. According to Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at UCLA, they are such strong believers in the health benefits of crying that they’ve taken that wisdom to the next level. Some cities in Japan now have “crying clubs” called rui-katsu (meaning “tear-seeking”) in which people come together to indulge in what I’d call,  “group crying fests”

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.” ― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

 

 

References: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/9-surprising-benefits-crying-why-its-okay-have-good-cry.html

https://www.pbafacts.com/pba-facts-science

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/is-crying-good-for-you

San Diego’s Coronado Bridge: Suicide Prevention Measures Considered

 

San Diego's Coronado Bridge

San Diego’s Coronado Bridge

As of May, 2015, the City Council responsible for the Management of the Coronado Bridge in San Diego gave a unanimous vote to study the type of suicide prevention barrier that would be the most effective.

The Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention Collaborative has initiated a project similar to that of San Francisco, for a barrier costing $75 million, consisting of a -20 foot wide steel net.

The numbers of completed suicides in San Diego in recent months appear to differ. Some local articles list 131 in the past 15 years. Other sources, drawing from such resources as the Coronado Police Department and the Medical Examiner and the California Highway Patrol report more than 150 people have jumped off the bridge to their deaths since the year 2000.

Even more devastating is the fact that since January 2015, police have responded to 41 additional attempts.

Homelessness in San Diego County – A Factor, January 2015

According to the San Diego Union Tribune April 2015 article,  the number of people living on the street or in shelters in San Diego County increased by 2.8 percent from last year, according to results of an annual count of homeless people. (This is an estimate.)

Volunteers in the annual count found 4,156 people living on the streets, a 4.3 increase from last year. Another 4,586 people were in shelters, a 1.4 percent increase from last year.

Of the 4,156 people on the street, about 70 percent were males and 15.4 percent were veterans. Almost 28 percent were believed to have either an addiction or severe mental illness, and more than 70 percent said they had been homeless a year or longer.

The WeAllCount Campaign, also known as the Point-in-Time Count, was held in the early morning hours on Jan. 23, 2015.  That’s over 8,700 homeless people!

Sand Diego's Coronado Bridge

Sand Diego’s Coronado Bridge

Suicide Then and Now:

As reported since my previous blog in July, 2011, San Diego’s Coronado Bridge and the City’s Recent Suicides, the signs along the bridge giving suicide prevention counseling information haven’t been working.

CalTrans, the company who oversees the maintenance of the Coronado Bridge seems to have taken their former callous attitude and snuffed it, in favor of a more compassionate stance to at least do a feasibility study.

According to public information officer, Edward Cartagena of CalTrans, many variables have to be considered. What works in San Francisco, may not work in Coronado. Although they have added technology in the event of earthquakes, added weight and wind currents need to be considered (in addition to cost).

Dr. Jennifer Lewis on the faculty of the Department of Social Work at the University of California – San Diego, wants a sense of urgency to be placed on this issue. In reality, a feasibility study can range from six months to two years to complete.  She is in favor of a barrier, saying “other places where they’ve gone in, they’ve been 100 percent effective.”

The Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention Collaborative is serving as the watchdog.  From recent posts on their Facebook page, it appears they are doing what they can to build awareness and prevention. https://vimeo.com/132130635.

Witnessing of a Suicide

Dr. Lewis wants to protect the potential further witnessing of suicide that can be as traumatic as those who have lost a loved one. Not much is found on internet resources about this aspect. 

An anonymous writer wrote of this experience in 2008 – A haunting experience to witness the suicide of a stranger as a “good Samaritan.” (Some editing)

“Last week I was driving over the San Francisco Bay Bridge and watched someone get up on the railing and jump off. I found out later that he died and was picked up by the authorities.

I did all the things I was supposed to do – called 911, checked in with the authorities, let myself cry before driving a vehicle etc. I’ve been in touch with friends who are therapists and gotten plenty of hugs and loving people to support me.

The image of him getting up on the side of the bridge and the way his body looked as he jumped haunts me. I know it’s probably too early to expect that it go away. I’m just struggling with what meaning to find in it all and how to find people who won’t judge what I am experiencing.

I’ve looked for support sites online and have found a number of places that are for friends or family who have had someone they love commit suicide. However, I don’t even know this guy’s name. I wouldn’t want to be intruding on what is obviously a very sensitive time for someone who has a friend or family member die. 

This situation is challenging for me because I don’t know much about what happened, or why it happened. There is not much more information I can learn. I also have found that while some family or friends have tried to be helpful. They have had a tough time not assigning blame, being judgmental or putting their own issues about death and suicide onto my plate.  As a result of their attitudes, this experience feels even more confusing and alienating.”

I sincerely hope and pray that this person sought professional counselling and was able to focus in the land of the living.

Sand Diego's Coronado Bridge

Sand Diego’s Coronado Bridge

Putting the Pieces Together – One Woman’s Story

As reported in an San Francisco Chronicle in 2005, (some portions edited) investigators with the Coroner’s Office are a special breed of detectives.  Those who are elderly jumpers are few and far between.

Such was the case of Lois Anne Houston.  She was a heavy-set 75-year-old, who jumped from the San Francisco Bridge and apparently hit the water face first. The impact opened up her face from nose to chin, leaving a gaping red wound and a grotesque death mask.

The investigator, Darryl Harris stated, “There must be something pretty outrageous in her life that made her do this.” You just don’t see this occur – hardly ever.”   That would turn out to be true.

Lois chose a cloudy Sunday morning, April 24, in which to end her life. She drove north onto the bridge, in her blue Ford Taurus, put the emergency flashers on and climbed over the divider to the pedestrian walkway. A California Highway Patrol officer spotted the car and went to investigate. He saw that the vehicle was empty and then saw Houston on top of the bridge railing, according to the report.

Inspector Harris found Houston’s body in the familiar spot, on the long tray under a tarp on the dock. He pulled back the tarp and went through the routine of checking the body and looking for identification including her purse.

It was tough to see Houston on the pallet. The impact had shredded her clothing. Her black pants and floral print blouse were in tatters, barely clinging to her arms and legs. Her panties and bra were in pieces.

There was bruising everywhere, on her thighs, chest, back and face. She wore a gold watch and a ring on her finger. She wore black socks and was missing one shoe.

Her wallet had photos, but it was difficult to know with certainty, which was portrayed in the photos.

Lois‘ sister from Florida returned a call received from a police officer, Her sister stated that Lois “had no family out west.”  She had lived with another woman for 40 years, and her partner had died last summer.

In the interim, Lois was diagnosed with colon cancer. Lois recently had been told that her cancer had spread to her liver.  (I think Lois, still actively grieving, just wanted to be with her partner all the more after receiving the news and decided to “skip a prolonged, painful death“ as her choice.”)

The pathologist reported clinically and coldly that Lois “died of multiple blunt-force injuries, due to a “jump from height.”

 

Returning to the Trenches and the Effectiveness of Suicide Barriers

Whether stated in 2005, or 2015, Inspectors with the Coroner’s office have their own opinions.

At the time in 2005, Darryl Harris said “he didn’t have an opinion” on whether the bridge should have a suicide barrier. However, most of the jumpers he investigated had significant histories of suicidal behavior.  Harris’ comment,“I don’t know that a barrier would do much good, I think people will find other ways to kill themselves, and it might mean they do something that puts someone else in danger, like jumping off a building or intentionally driving their car into traffic.”  THAT, is an opinion.

Conclusion-

We cannot say whether a barrier will help in all instances. But, it may be a deterrent in some cases, as nothing is foolproof. As a friend likes to say… “Let’s get busy” (when it comes to suicide prevention).

Anti-Suicide Resources:

1) National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call 24/7 1-800-273-8255

2)Hotlines listed by State – http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

3) 917-65-1889- http://sisfi.org/suicidetours.html

 

References:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/may/06/coronado-adds-support-to-bridge-suicide-barrier/

http://www.coronadonewsca.com/opinion/you-can-help-with-suicide-prevention/article_d49062f8-033c-11e5-a232-0719767a57f5.html

http://ask.metafilter.com/108103/Witnessing-the-suicide-of-a-stranger

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/LETHAL-BEAUTY-No-easy-death-Suicide-by-bridge-2562269.php

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/apr/23/count-shows-homeless-numbers-up-in-county/