Wasted Honor -

Carl R. ToersBijns is the author of the Wasted Honor Trilogy [Wasted Honor I,II and Gorilla Justice] and his newest book From the Womb to the Tomb, the Tony Lester Story, which is a reflection of his life and his experiences as a correctional officer and a correctional administrator retiring with the rank of deputy warden in the New Mexico and Arizona correctional systems.

Carl also wrote a book on his combat experience in the Kindle book titled - Combat Medic - Men with destiny - A red cross of Valor -

Carl is considered by many a rogue expert in the field of prison security systems since leaving the profession. Carl has been involved in the design of many pilot programs related to mental health treatment, security threat groups, suicide prevention, and maximum custody operational plans including double bunking max inmates and enhancing security for staff. He invites you to read his books so you can understand and grasp the cultural and political implications and influences of these prisons. He deals with the emotions, the stress and anxiety as well as the realities faced working inside a prison. He deals with the occupational risks while elaborating on the psychological impact of both prison worker and prisoner.

His most recent book, Gorilla Justice, is an un-edited raw fictional version of realistic prison experiences and events through the eyes of an anecdotal translation of the inmate’s plight and suffering while enduring the harsh and toxic prison environment including solitary confinement.

Carl has been interviewed by numerous news stations and newspapers in Phoenix regarding the escape from the Kingman prison and other high profile media cases related to wrongful deaths and suicides inside prisons. His insights have been solicited by the ACLU, Amnesty International, and various other legal firms representing solitary confinement cases in California and Arizona. He is currently working on the STG Step Down program at Pelican Bay and has offered his own experience insights with the Center of Constitutional Rights lawyers and interns to establish a core program at the SHU units. He has personally corresponded and written with SHU prisoners to assess the living conditions and how it impacts their long term placement inside these type of units that are similar to those in Arizona Florence Eyman special management unit where Carl was a unit deputy warden for almost two years before his promotion to Deputy Warden of Operations in Safford and Eyman.

He is a strong advocate for the mentally ill and is a board member of David's Hope Inc. a non-profit advocacy group in Phoenix and also serves as a senior advisor for Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council in Chino, California As a subject matter expert and corrections consultant, Carl has provided interviews and spoken on national and international radio talk shows e.g. BBC CBC Lou Show & TV shows as well as the Associated Press.

I use sarcasm, satire, parodies and other means to make you think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why First Responders Commit Suicide

Why First Responders Commit Suicide

There appears to be a disturbing trend happening in the public service sector when it comes to suicides. There are too many incidents of suicidal deaths among police officers, correctional officers firemen and emergency personnel and although it cannot fully be explained as to why they did it or why it is happening because we cannot speak of certain circumstances except that these employees all share common thread as first responders, veterans of a military service branch and an enthusiasm for serving to protect and serve in various occupations within the public service sectors. 

When you begin to research suicides the results are frightening. Their rate of killing themselves is much higher than the average rate nationally and should show a natural vulnerability to having suicidal thoughts while engaged in their jobs. It seems the toll takes on several concerns that include mental health stability, their physical health, addictions and their ability to deal with stress and secondary stress such as vicarious post-traumatic stress as a result of job related incidents. 

The first step needing to be addressed is the provision of confidential counseling services to help cope with the stressors while recognizing the warning signs. Unfortunately despite of some of these individual efforts, there are no mass recovery tools available that allows many to fall between the cracks of this phenomena. Their job is filled with acute stress, social isolation, pre-existing mental illnesses, and substance abuse. A common link too many professional occupations has been found to exist among this group of workers and many others including doctors, nurses and lawyers.

One may wonder if the social pressures of the job or the workplace culture might push them into these critical conditions that sets them up for suicidal ideations and feelings of no hope for recovery. Normally filled with workplace energies and motivational spirits abound, there appears to be a force within this culture that drains them beyond their reserves of resilience making them vulnerable at times. 

For both men and women in this work-related force, fearlessness and courage is a required ingredient. This puts a tremendous strain on their own psyche to feel pressured to project emotional and physical prowess, confidence and an ability to deal and manage anything placed on their shoulders. Carrying such pressures of expectation takes a toll on the best of the best and can create many self-doubting moments for them. 

They feel they must masquerade as being strong and confident at all times. They must pretend to be untroubled even when they are struggling within themselves and identify sound judgment and decisions based on the moments in front of them. Many won’t admit they need help themselves. One thing is for certain – these internal pressures to excel and perform are real and won’t be reduced anytime soon. Their need to be infallible to make mistakes will not lessen as the world they live in changes rapidly and requires quick thinking and a limited legal ability to get the job done right. Their jobs as first responders will require them to step it up another notch as well as their ability to maintain a comprehensive understanding of what is expected of them by their agency and the public. 

Monday morning quarterbacks and hindsight observations makes it emotionally hard for first responders to accept poor outcomes. They know that being blamed comes with the job but with the drastic increase of responsibilities they know the public and their own leadership does not realize how much the job overwhelms them and how it is marked with severe fatigue, errors on the job, fear of being harmed by others. 

All this plus dealing with a severe sense of inadequacy as their job requirements change from moment to moment making up to date training almost impossible at real time strides. Keeping a charade of composure and humor to blend in with coworkers they sometimes believe they are in this struggle alone when in fact, their plight is more common than realized. 

A fear of being exposed of this subconscious feeling they go into denial and refuse to confess there are issues they need to deal with in a timely manner and very often ignored until it is too late. The workplace culture does not allow them to be able to express or voice these self-doubts or fears. They are unable to talk about them and their emotional or physical impacts for the fear of embarrassment and possible shunning from others keeps them silent.
A culture that encourages us to share these vulnerabilities could help us realize that we are not alone and find comfort and increased connection with our peers. It could also make it easier for first responders who are at risk to ask for help. And I believe it would make us all better public servants.