October 8, 2015

The new law submitted by members of the U.S. Senate, if passed, will not help those who need mental health care most — the potentially violent. The mass murderers we read about are young men, not the elderly and disabled.
The bill submitted by Senators Stabenow,Mikulski and Lee applies to Medicare recipients only. It would increase the amount of payments to social workers for counseling and other mental health services, including services provided in skilled nursing facilities. That’s great for the elderly.
What kinds of laws might help prevent violence? Laws that most liberals would oppose. We need to expand and increase social control over people who show a tendency to violence. Yes, this means locking them up in mental hospitals and making so-called “mandatory” treatments compulsory. At this time, mental health professionals have the deck stacked against them when they attempt to curtail peoples’ civil rights — even for the purpose of saving lives! Weak and ineffective laws restrict the provision of care. As a social worker and author, I feature these dilemmas in my thriller novels from the provider’s perspective, as well as the client’s point of view. It’s an effort to educate the general public in a Continue reading

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October 2, 2015

Why Did He Do It? He Was Mentally Ill

Who’s responsible for the killing of Umpqua Community College students in Roseburg, Oregon? We are, we collectively, as a society. I won’t print the name of the individual who actually did the deed because it doesn’t matter.  The sickness of violence afflicts our Nation’s people, and there are many specific indicators of that. Before I enumerate those examples, a question:  What if you knew someone who appeared to be “crazy” or “peculiar” and had a history of violence, or was threatening violence? Would you know what to do?

Talking to the person (we will call the Subject) and giving him/her information about mental health services might be a first step. Talking to the parent(s) or other loved one of the Subject might be a second step. Or maybe the first step, but certainly the third, if the first two weren’t successful, should be to contact the local Community Mental Health Agency and ask to fill in and sign a form called a Petition for Involuntary Evaluation.

Here is a brief explanation of how, in doing that, you might prevent another mass murder. (The specifics here apply to the State Continue reading

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December 4, 2013
It’s been a while, and I’ve been busy being an author.  In the Spring this year, I manned a booth of the Tucson Sisters in Crime at the Tucson Book Festival — a huge event that drew thousands and was attended by famed authors.

Keeping the wind from blowing things away and staying warm were priorities, along with selling and signing books.  It was a cool, blustery day, unusual for Tucson even in the spring.

In November, I was invited to Central Arizona to do a book signing and talk at the Beaver Creek Public Library.  A huge mural of Montezuma’s Well covered the back and side walls.  It looked just like the cover of my book, which was actually from a photo my daughter took.

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As many other authors have found, promoting and publicizing the book takes a lot of time.  Will I have time to write the second one?  I’ve started it and I’m excited about it.  Now for the time….

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May 23, 2013

Why did I title my first novel “The Well”?

Prime elements of the book’s plot take place at Montezuma Well in central Arizona.  The Well is a unique, spring-fed lake surrounded by ancient Native American cliff dwellings.  That may seem the obvious reason for naming my book The Well, but that’s not it.  (Strictly speaking, The Well is not a lake or a well, and Montezuma had nothing to do with it.)  
I have vivid memories of turning a wooden crank to lower a heavy wooden bucket deep into the mysterious depths of an old-fashioned, man-made well.  During suspense-filled moments, I hear the creaking of the wood, metal and rope mechanism.  Will the bucket land squarely on its bottom and float, or tip and fill?  Then the faint “ploosh” sound as the bucket hits the water’s surface and sinks below it.  I turn the crank in reverse direction to draw the bucket upward, feeling its increased weight.  The wet rope and bucket release droplets back into the rock-lined shaft; their hollow, echoing “plink” sounds are both eerie and promising.  As I lean Continue reading
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March 31, 2013

Are You Made Up?

   No, no, if you’re reading this we know you’re real.  Don’t you?  But are you wearing your makeup?  In the 21st century, it’s a unisex question.  Following the lead of politicians and movie stars, plenty of hometown males are slathering on a bit of “BB” cream or eye liner before they hit the streets.  Why?  To look better; to feel better, of course.  My friend, a preppy New Englander, called cosmetics “armor for New York City,” imputing to them a magical, protective function as well.

The bare truth: the basic intent of makeup application can be classified as either decorative or remedial.  Product names clearly identify the intent of the purchaser.  Decorative:  Luscious Lashes, Scandal Blusher, Scintillating Shadow, Kiss-Me Lip gloss.  Remedial:  Age-defying Makeup, A Touch of Grey Hair Coloring, Young-again Lashes, Dark-shadow Eraser.  The demographics are spliced precisely on the age line.
I remember the good old days when a quick swipe of blusher and lip gloss guided by my Continue reading

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January 10, 2013

Feed the Compassion

Where were the killers, the mass-murderers?  In Tucson, in Aurora, in Newtown.  Where were the killers’ family members, class-mates, friends and neighbors?  Were they residing in Denial, looking the other way, ignoring the specter of mental illness in my family, among my friends, my neighbors?  Such is the stigma, the cloud of fear, ignorance and denial that surrounds mental illness in this allegedly civilized country of ours.  As a mental health worker and a person whose own family was afflicted by mental illness, I understand the painful dilemma surrounding mental health diagnoses and treatments.

I am not implying that family members and others surrounding the shooters were to blame for the deaths of so many innocents.  Of course not.  Those mass killings and the ones which may be coming are part of a complex social issue involving many causes.  Inadequate gun laws and poor access to mental health services are just two slices in the pie chart of shameful culpability.  Here is how I apportion the causes and here are my recommendations.

Culture of violence, 30%.   Films, video games and TV shows that glorify killing are Continue reading

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December 9, 2012

Some years ago I was a (politically correct) “returning student,” (read old person) at the local community college.  I had taken five or six fun and easy courses, each rewarded with an “A” and a ratchet up in confidence.  Finally I felt ready to take Beginning Algebra.  Be impressed.  This move demonstrated a bravery equal to falling on a live grenade, considering the fact that I have a math phobia and had managed to graduate high school innocent of even rudimentary contact with said algebra.

That first day in class I realized that my peers, most of whom were less than one-half my age, had taken algebra before and this class was designed for them, not an algebraically uninitiated like myself.  The teacher blithely rattled on about formulas, equations, real numbers, natural numbers and irrational numbers.  Perversely, she wrote letters on the blackboard, instead of any of the aforementioned numbers and some were embraced by parentheses, which I had foolishly assumed were used only to cozy up groups of words.  The teacher’s language was worse than gibberish.  I felt as if I were about to become an irrational number, so at the Continue reading

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December 9, 2012

Can you believe this book:  Proof of Heaven  A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D. ?

     This book relates the “near-death experience” (NDE) of a neurosurgeon.  There are hundreds of such accounts in the media, but this book claims that its author’s experience was both unique and compelling enough to render proof that consciousness exists independent of bodily existence, that life goes on after death.  Woody Allen once said, “I don’t believe in an afterlife but I’m taking a change of underwear anyway.”  We share his equivocation but we prefer to know for sure if we should pack those skivvies.
     Twenty-one years ago, I wrote a report on the NDE for a college class.  I began my research by attending a meeting of a local chapter of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, where I met and heard the stories of several NDE’rs.  Why do such accounts fascinate us?  Perhaps because they offer the best elements from both a good old-fashioned ghost story and a bulletin from the frontiers of science.  They tantalize us with the promise Continue reading
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September 15, 2012

   Hello, Readers.   I’d like to share some ideas, opinions and some deeper thoughts about life.  I’ll share my ideas about current events, about the challenges of being an author, and just about anything else that strikes our fancy.  This blog will be free of profanity, insults and other negative sputterings. Here is a brief bio for background:

SHARON STERLING — AUTOBIOGRAPHY

     I was born in Colorado, the youngest of four siblings. Some of my father’s family lived in Colorado, but more relatives lived in Oklahoma and Missouri. Family stories had it that our great-grandmother (on mother’s side) was full-blooded Cherokee Indian. That heritage fostered my interest in Native Americans, and a particular love and respect for the Hopi, of north-central Arizona. However! Very recently, a DNA test, done by Ancestry.com revealed NO Native American blood, and no other particularly exotic heritage at all. Sigh.

I received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and a Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. For the past thirty years, Arizona has been my home. As a licensed, clinical social worker, I worked in Continue reading

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