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5K walk to focus on suicides

By Staff | Nov 17, 2008

Confirmed suicides are up this year in Lee County; it is a tragic if not sobering reality for Virginia Cervasio, whose son took his own life in the spring of 2006.

An Air Force veteran who had a passion for serving the community, Angelo Cervasio ended his life at age 24. Virginia, seeking solace somewhere in Southwest Florida, found it impossible to locate an outreach program.

It was not long after that she formed C.A.R.E.S., or Community Awareness in Recognizing and Educating on Suicide, to fill an obvious need throughout the region.

“We had no signs, no idea something was going on,” she said of her son’s death. “I sought out some help in our community and realized there was nothing available.”

C.A.R.E.S. recently opened its resource center in Cape Coral to help fill that gap, and now it is turning to the community for help.

On Saturday, the second annual “Survivors Stepping Out” 5K walk will be held at Tarpon Point Marina to honor those lost to suicide and to bring attention to the growing problem.

According to Cervasio, Lee County has had 106 confirmed suicides through Nov. 15. In 2007 there were 94, and 102 in 2006 through the same date.

Cervasio said the organization does not have any full statistics available, but she speculates the majority of suicides are in the 40-50 age group, possibly another telltale sign of the economy’s devastating effects.

“It’s up and it’s scary,” she said. “From the phone calls we receive … a lot has to do with the economy. People are losing their jobs, their homes, the things they worked for their whole lives.”

Registration fees are $10 per walker. Fees include breakfast, lunch and a T-shirt.

Proceeds will go toward helping keep the resource center afloat, where information, counseling and support are available.

It is all aimed at changing the taboo that suicide should not be discussed openly, and at hopefully preventing future loss with the proper education.

Then there is Angelo’s legacy, which Cervasio felt she must carry on, for him, herself and anyone who needs help.

“All he wanted to do was serve his community. He accomplished most of it but for whatever reason he decided to end his life. So, I’m finishing up his work, taking over where he left off,” she said.