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Suicide prevention center marks 1st anniversary with open house

By Staff | Jul 7, 2009

Southwest Florida’s only suicide prevention center, located in Cape Coral, is celebrating its one-year anniversary today.
One year ago the Community Awareness in Recognizing and Educating on Suicide, or C.A.R.E.S., cut the ribbon at its facility on Del Prado Boulevard.
Before moving to the new building, the center had been operated out of the home of its founder, Virginia Cervasio, which she created in April 2006 after her son committed suicide.
Today, it lies next door to Cheryl Buss’ The Back Door Counseling and Tara Moser’s Delta Family Counseling, two licensed mental health clinics. Each of the facilities often work together.
Dr. Luis Jasa, a psychologist from Sarasota, is also part of the C.A.R.E.S. team.
C.A.R.E.S. is not a counseling center or clinic, but it is a one-stop location for the depressed or mentally ill to be referred to a professional.
The center’s anniversary celebration will operate like an open house, said Cervasio, running tonight from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at 3723A Del Prado Blvd.
“We are just celebrating and marking our one-year anniversary,” she said. “We have invited volunteers, past donors and officials.”
In one year it has assisted 25 people with securing therapy and psychological evaluations through a program providing financial assistance for the destitute to receive mental health services.
“A countless number of clients have been answered and given resources,” said Cervasio. “That is a big accomplishment and that is why we are celebrating.”
The center has trained 225 people on suicide prevention and awareness, specifically the warning signs of a suicidal person and what options are available to help them.
It has also sent speakers to Lee County high schools to address more than 10,000 students on suicide prevention.
Cervasio said the center has instituted a Youth Leadership Task Force, comprised of students from 12 area high schools, who meet on a monthly basis and discuss ways to inform teens on the issue of suicide.
“Right now our goal is to get one student from each high school,” she said.
Tara Moser, a licensed clinical social worker and head of Delta Family Counseling, is the school liaison to the task force. On Aug. 8 the group will host a scavenger hunt at Jaycee Park that is open to the public.
The center is also focused on becoming certified in more suicide prevention programs so additional trainers can be deployed throughout Southwest Florida and across the state.
Suicide is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. National data indicates that a person dies from suicide every 16 minutes.
Since January there have been 44 suicides in Lee County, according to the medical examiner’s office.