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CARES suicide prevention group to be taken over by NAMI

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

CARES suicide prevention group to be taken over by NAMI

By Matt Grant. CREATED Apr 25, 2013

FORT MYERS - The Lee County suicide prevention group CARES, which had been on the brink of closing due to funding issues, will get a second lease on life.

"Anytime someone takes their life it's very sad," said CARES founder Virginia Cervasio, "because it's preventable."

The Community Awareness in Recognizing & Educating on Suicide (CARES) told Fox 4 they will be taken over by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Cervasio started CARES in 2006, after her son took his life. Her non-profit recently ran into financial trouble. Back in February she told us CARES was on the brink of closing.

"We just don't have it anymore," Cervasio said back in February. "The money's not coming in like it was."

Representatives with the NAMI stepped in after watching Cervasio's interview on Fox 4.

"We cannot lose her," said NAMI executive director Kathy Sager. "We cannot lose this source, this resource for our community."

NAMI has announced that it will take over CARES, which will dissolve its non-profit status. Cervasio plans to stay on as a director. She says nothing will change for the people they serve.

"Every single program that we have will stay in tact," said Cervasio. "And we can help our community even better."

Cervasio had been on the front lines helping educate others about warning signs and acting as a source of comfort to families in crisis.

According to Cervasio, from January to April of this year 32 people have committed suicide in Lee County. The youngest were 16 and 17 years old.

Experts say suicide is linked to depression.

"Suicide and mental illness goes hand-in-hand," said Sager. "Because depression is mental illness and we've got to prevent that."

Which is why the two organizations are teaming up with the goal of keeping these programs, and those in crisis, alive.

"What will this partnership mean for the community?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Definitely more help," said Cervasio. "No doubt about it."

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com