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SUICIDES KILL MORE THAN HOMICIDES

(This Op-Ed by yours truly was published in Florida Today, Monday, May 14, 2018.)

Most folks do not realize that homicide detectives spend more than half their time on the job investigating suicides, accidental deaths and even unexplained natural deaths, not just murder cases. That’s because any of those could be a homicide in disguise.

Sometimes, it hits home. As a Miami-Dade County homicide supervisor in the 1970s, I was routinely reviewing a stack of reports when I came across a suicide case where a 65-year-old man shot himself in the head and left a note: “I don’t want to suffer the cancer.” His name was Joe Strauss. My stepfather’s brother, he was “Uncle” Joe to me.

On another occasion, I visited the morgue to consult with the medical examiner, a frequent occurrence. As I passed by the array of bodies wearing nothing but toe-tags, I noticed a small person lying with a bullet hole in her temple. I gasped. I knew this girl, my wife’s niece, age 11. Alone in the house, she found her dad’s pistol, lay on the bed and elected to die.

Nationally, suicides comprise more than double the number of homicides, 44,965 compared to

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MARIJUANA VERSUS NICOTINE: MYTHS AND REALITIES

I am a recovering drug addict. My drug of choice: Nicotine.

     On January 14, I celebrated my 35th anniversary of freedom from the chains of tobacco misery, smoking four packs of Pall Mall’s every day. I smoked constantly and everywhere, in the office, in elevators, movie theaters and yes, even in the shower with a burning butt on the edge of the commode. Every morning I suffered twenty minutes of wretched coughing jags, only to light up after.

     Nicotine is one of the most addictive and destructive drugs in history. For decades, American culture glorified cigarettes as though part of a sophisticated dress code. It was cool. Practically every movie depicted stars puffing on cigarettes; doctors and celebrities received handsome rewards for endorsing the drug; cigarette companies contributed to political parties while they deliberately enhanced the potency of tobacco to keep people hooked.

     My mother smoked Kents with the “micronite” filter, falling for the propaganda they were healthier than unfiltered. She died of cancer, 1966.

     It was all a lie. It was all about money. Cigarettes represented a multi-billion dollar industry. Naysayers and scientists who tried to tell the truth, who tried to warn, were ignored. They were bad

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BULLYING MORE SERIOUS THAN PEOPLE THINK

(This Op-Ed appears in the December 16, 2017 issue of Florida Today newspaper.)

Bullying is a nightmare for many kids, a problem which schools, government officials, and yes, some parents, do not take seriously enough. It can impact a person’s future forever. In some instances, it can cause death and destruction within families.

I know something about bullies. I remember a slightly built boy in seventh grade nicknamed Squidgie who didn’t realize that other kids thought he was a “fairy.” A bigger boy named Stanley and his followers began taunting Squidgie daily in hallways, bathrooms and school yards, belittling, screaming, laughing, pointing and humiliating the child to the point that he began to withdraw into his own world. His mother (widowed) was perplexed, unable to crack through the shell that Squidgie withdrew into.

One day, a gaggle of boys and girls played dodge ball after school with Squidgie as the target in the circle center until he fell. From there, came the pushing, hitting and kicking. The kids took his violin from the case and threw it in the bushes, all laughing and screaming, “Squidgie is a fairy” over and over. The world became a lonely place for that child.

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EXPRESS THOSE LOVING FEELINGS – WHILE YOU CAN

    Have you ever told an old friend, co-worker or supervisor what you really thought of him or her?  Sometimes we wait until it’s too late.

     One of my important police mentors, who guided me through the early days in homicide, became a lifelong friend, long into retirement. Sergeant Ray Beck was a class act, dignified, suave, articulate and smart. He loved his job, I loved working with him.

     Fast-forward to 2002.  Living North Carolina, I hadn’t seen Ray Beck for several years. I knew he had battled on and off with cancer issues. One morning, the phone rang, it was Ray Beck calling from Miami. He struggled to speak, voice raspy, shallow breathing. “Marshall.  (pause-cough) Just wanted you to know (pause) you were like (pause) a son to me.” (pause)

     “Ray? What’s wrong?” 

     In a near whisper, he said, “I…I…(pause-cough)…love you.”

     Dial tone.

     Stunned, I choked up. Then burst into tears. I would have headed to Miami the next day but it was too late. Ray had passed. I never relayed the same message back.

     Ray Beck was the consummate mentor, having taught me another lesson from his death bed. Today, I have no qualms about sharing my true feelings

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE?

Before reading, please enjoy this 5-minute video/song by Bill Anderson titled: Where Have All the Heroes Gone.”

     Click here: Bill Anderson – Where Have All Our Heroes Gone – YouTube

     I wonder…where have they gone?

     Born in 1939, I grew up through many significant milestones in America; Wars, Political strife, Assassinations, Sports records, Entertainment giants, Economic dilemmas, Segregation, Civil Rights movements, Riots, Crime and more.

     Heroes abounded. As a little boy, I saw every president as a hero, because they stood for America, the greatest country in the history of the world. The first song I ever memorized on violin was the Star Spangled Banner, which I played daily for my second grade class at North Beach Elementary in Miami Beach. I learned early on, that the “Pledge” was a statement of loyalty to the greatest country on the planet, and how lucky I was to be a part of it…despite its flaws.

     The first television screen I ever saw was in New York City, 1948, where my parents were visiting a friend. It was a piece of oak furniture with a six-inch screen in the middle. Through the flickering black-and-white picture, I saw ball players running on a field.

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FOUR REASONS TO EXCLUDE TRANSGENDERS FROM MILITARY

Some folks may label me a bigoted, anti-everything, but I happen to agree with the president’s order to exclude transgender people from service in the United States military.

     Notice I did not say Lesbians, Gays, or bisexuals, and neither did the president. Transgender represents the “T” in the now-famous acronym, LGBTQ. Critics might broad brush supporters of the president’s order as anti-gay or anti-lesbian, which is simply untrue. Gays and lesbians have been serving honorably in the armed forces for years. But the big “T” is a whole other dimension. So, let’s dispense with false labels.

     The military must operate as efficiently as possible. It does not exist to be a politically correct entity to include each and every American no matter the differences. There are standards, rightly so. The Army has a minimum requirement for applicants to pass aptitude tests. Those who fail are not accepted. Is the U.S. Army bigoted against intellectually-challenged people? People are excluded from military service for various reasons, such as age, education, medical/mental health and physical restrictions. Perhaps we should drop all of that because it discriminates?

     Transgender folks pose a unique problem to military forces, which most people are unaware. Intellectual author, Dr.

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ALLOW DEATH WITH DIGNITY IN SUNSHINE STATE

Marshall Frank, Community columnist, June 9, 2017  —  This Op-Ed appears in the 6/9/17 edition of Florida Today.

Florida should follow the lead of other states by enacting such a law.

Florence, 81, was an Oregon resident, diagnosed with painful pancreatic cancer. The doctor gave her less than eight weeks to live. After confirming with a second opinion by another doctor, she elected to die with dignity.

On a Saturday afternoon, she invited her two adult kids and their kids to her apartment. She hugged them all, shared loving words, sat on a sofa and lifted a glass of water. She swallowed 10 Seconal sleeping pills. Within 30 minutes, she was pain-free, consumed in eternal sleep.

Some folks may find this a gruesome, but it is important to talk about it.

Free-thinking people with debilitating and incurable illnesses should have the right to choose when and how to end their lives (with certain restrictions and caveats). Once people arrive at advanced ages and then suffer with horrible diseases and/or pain from which there is little relief, they should be afforded opportunities to make a clear and thoughtful choice. The technology is at our disposal, so why not?

Because we have

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