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Friday, September 06 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Lake Wales - When life throws you lemons, you learn to make lemonade, right? Isn't that how that popular saying goes? Well, that's exactly what Connie and Chris Martin-Latta, owners of Pallet Signs by CCMartinLatta did when life threw them lemons in the form of a disability. They used their talent and willingness to move forward in life to start a hobby that, later on, became a small-business.

   With Pallet Signs, by CCMartinLatta, Chris and Connie, take raw pallets, break them down, and build signs in different sizes. They create beautiful sayings, quotes, and pictures to stencil on or hand paint. Pallet Signs, by CCMartinLatta started two years ago and you can find them every 2nd and 4th Saturday from 8-1 at the Lake Wales Farmers Market. You can also find them on Facebook (@ccmartinlatta). Signs run between $10 -20 each.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Lake Wales - Have you ever watched one of those Hallmark movies in which the main character is a beautiful lady who also happens to run her own small-town small business? Well, guess what? While visiting Lake Wales' Farmers Market, I got to meet Lake Wales' own real-life Hallmark small-town business owner. Meet Donna Whetsell-Cerrone, from RCDC Essentials Artisan Soap.

   Since establishing her business in 2016, Donna has been creating hand-made artisan soaps made simply with only carefully sourced, premium-grade, organic & natural ingredients. But her products don't only include soaps... she also offers a RCDC Essentials Bath & Body Collection, which is her line of Luxury Artisans Bath & Body products. All of Donna's handcrafted bath products are made simply with only the finest 100% pure, natural and sustainable ingredients that are carefully and responsibly sourced. She believes in keeping her products green, proudly cruelty-free, and never tested on animals.

   Because all of her bath products are handcrafted, made to order, and painstakingly inspected, the love she shares in her creations are never rushed.

   When we met Donna, she was accompanied by her husband Rob and her cousin Morris. Rob, a retired Navy Veterans is the perfect addition to Donna's business. He not only serves as her "personal assistant," but he also acts as Donna's publicists. You don't believe me? Ask Rob about Donna's love for her business and he will go on and on about how much Donna loves what she does. He was actually the one who told us how much Donna loves Hallmark movies and that her dream has always been to create a small-business just like the ones she sees in those movies. Well, guess what? She did it, and she is killing it!

   We invite you to stop by the Lake Wales' Farmers Market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from 8-1, so you can take a look at all the products that Donna has to offer. I, personally, bought two products... the Wild Summer Berries Body Mist and the Wild Summer Berries artisan soap. Even my husband bought a product... the Driftwood artisan soap. Give Donna's hand-made products a try. I promise you.. you won't be disappointed!

Visit her website at

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Brandon N. Kneeld, Guest Contributor

   “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” These words that open the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence make up the most basic foundational statement on which the United States is built. However, few would argue that this has been universally applied throughout our nation’s history. Despite great achievements in the realms of social justice, even today, minority groups continue to face prejudice and systemic inequity that prevent them from fully realizing their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

   In the fifty years since Stonewall, the most recent decade has brought about significant progress toward LGBT equality. The nation’s final LGBT adoption ban was overturned in Florida in 2010, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” restrictions on military service were lifted in 2011, and Obergefell v. Hodges delivered marriage equality nationwide on June 2015. Despite these advancements, however, there are still a number of shortcomings.

   While LGBT youth are more likely to find acceptance today than even twenty years ago, bullying and family rejection remain a primary factor in high rates of homelessness, drug, abuse, and suicide. Also, despite their rejection by the mental health community, conversion therapy and the gay panic legal defense used in cases of violence toward LGBT individuals, are still legal throughout most of the country. Couple this with renewed efforts by some states to pass legislation that outright contradicts stare decisis of rulings where the ink has barely dried, including Obergefell, against a more conservative court, and it is easy to see why LGBT families are on edge about what the future might hold.

   It is impossible to legislate love or regulate thought, a key hurdle of every civil rights movement, but the 1964 Civil Rights Act and subsequent actions identified key areas in which discrimination could be regulated, particularly housing, employment, and public accommodations. These nationwide protections have for decades provided resources for those who have been discriminated against on the basis of immutable characteristics such as race, sex, religion, and age, among others.

   In May of this year, the US House passed the Equality Act, which would extend these same protections to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, however, the bill has stalled in committee in the Senate. Twenty states have passed their own protections for LGBT individuals, but similar bi-partisan efforts at the state level in Florida have also failed to get out of committee.

   With a lack of an action at the federal and state level, local jurisdictions have taken it upon themselves to amend their own civil rights ordinances to protect their LGBT residents, and today, more than 60% of Floridians live in jurisdictions that provide for civil remedies against discrimination for LGBT people. This includes all of Hillsborough, Orange, and Osceola counties, but currently, no such protections exist anywhere in Polk or Lake counties. This is despite overwhelming support for protections from major business entities in the region, including Amazon, Pepsico, and Darden Restaurants just to name a few.

   It should also be mentioned that our area’s largest employer, Disney, as well as other entertainment giants like Universal are continuously recognized as top employers in the LGBT community, providing both protection and equal benefits to their LGBT workers. As such, LGBT individuals from around the country have come to work at these locations, and with a lack of affordable housing in the Orlando Metro area, many of these families are flocking to Davenport, Clermont, and beyond as they begin their careers.

   For places that have built their reputation on being a hometown, it’s vital as they continue to grow to keep a sense of welcome and belonging. This will promote a vested interest in the community by new residents, encouraging them to lay down roots and build their families here, play an active role in area life, and invest in the future of the region. Failure to do so will only result in high turnover rates and disinterest as disaffected LGBT and other residents leave for other areas with established protections and hospitable climates, culminating in a cycle of transient residents that merely lay their heads here while investing their resources and building their lives elsewhere. Unless we make a case for all of our new families to settle down here, the sense of community that has long been a hallmark of the region will become a thing of the past.

About the Author: Brandon N. Kneeld is a City Commissioner for Davenport and works as a Systems Engineer for Disney. He serves on several local boards. He lives in Davenport with his husband, Akihito, and their infant son, Andrew.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Liz Nussmeier, Contributing Writer

Winter Haven - When moving to a new town, there are certain business establishments one must seek out for quality goods and services... hair care being one of those “must-have” places for our family.

   While looking for a stylish, we quickly found this little gem near our home in Winter Haven, and have been going there ever since. Bradley J's Cut And Go is a Barber Shop / Salon that offers Haircuts, Color, Perms, Fades, Flat Tops, Waxing, Deep Conditioning, Styling, Blowouts. They are located at 3812 Cypress Gardens Rd.

   One of my favorite aspects of this salon is that they offer their excellent hair care services on a “Walk-In” basis. Dawn is our usual stylist there, and she consistently offers great services.

   If you don’t already have a favorite hair salon, why not check out Cut and Go next time your hair is in need of a little love?

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Haines City - On July 22, The Northeast Polk Gazette had the great pleasure of sponsoring and attending one of the local Chamber of Commerce's monthly lunches. This time, it was a talk presented by Brian Reeves from LegalShield.

   During the lunch, Brian shared with us very interesting and useful information about who LegalShield is and what they have to offer not only to individuals looking for personal legal protection at an affordable price but also to businesses looking for "on-demand" legal services without having to incur exorbitant legal expenses.

   LegalShield offers a variety of legal service packets to fit everyone's needs and, again, the great part about their services is that you will receive a great deal of legal services at a low cost.

   If you are interested in hearing more about Legal Shield, contact Brian at (863) 899-1986 or via email at

Photo By: M.C. Reyes


Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Story courtesy of The Egg City, A 50's Diner

Haines City - Meet Steve! If you haven't taken the opportunity to chat with Steve yet, you're really missing out. This St. Louis native loves to travel, has a diverse work history, extensive travel experience, and has some VERY fun stories. (He's lived outside of Polk County the majority of his life, and offers a unique perspective and is a delightful and insightful storyteller.) Sit at the bar, grab a cup of coffee, and ask him about his travels, his dogs, or his love of Gone with the Wind and Funny Girl.

   The Egg City is a full-service, 50’s-style diner serving breakfast and lunch (or breakfast for lunch), in a fun, retro atmosphere. They are located at 35510 US-27 Haines City. They are open every day from 7:00am to 2:00pm.

Photo: Facebook

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Haines City - I have a quick question for you. What's one of the first things you do when you start a business? Well, you become a member of a local Chamber of Commerce so they can help you grow your business while making great networking connections, right? Well, what if I tell you that when you join The Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce, you will get more than that? Would you believe me? Well, do because the ladies at our local Chamber, formerly called The Haines City Chamber of Commerce is doing an incredible job at making their members feel at home, and when I say "feeling at home" I really mean it.

   From the moment you enter their office, you can feel great energy they have and their dedication to their members is like no other. From their countless business after-hour events to their diverse monthly lunches and gatherings, the Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce is doing an excellent job helping businesses around the area make connections and staying up to date with the community. Isn't that what we all want/need? I invite you to stop by the Chamber and say hi to Lana, Edee, Mary Jane, and Olivia. I did it for the first time a year ago, and I can tell you... they Rock!

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Staff Writer

Haines City - When Jeffrey was 17 years old, he realized he wanted to be a firefighter, but he was too young to attend the fire academy, so he joined the Army Reserves instead. After completing his training, he went ahead and served in the United States Army Reserves from 1987 to 1995, in the Combat Signal Corps. And, once he turned 18, he was finally able to start his career in the fire service, while also serving his country.

   This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jeffrey Davidson from the Haines City Fire Department and this is what he shared with us:

NEPG: What's your position in the Fire Department, and how long have you been in that position?

Fire Chief Davidson: I am the Fire Chief for the Haines City Fire Department, and I have been in the fire service for 31 years, starting in 1988, when I was only 18 years old. I took command of the Haines City Fire Department on February 11, 2019. I hold a Masters Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management, a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration and designation as Chief Fire Officer (CFO) from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

NEPG: What are your main responsibilities as the Fire Chief?

Fire Chief Davidson: As the Fire Chief, I am responsible for carrying out the day-to-day tasks of running the fire department. My main responsibilities include the safety and health of all personnel, management of the fire department budget, compliance with industry standards, management of emergency scenes, disaster preparedness, training, equipment, vehicles, facilities, communications, and emergency response. I am also responsible for assigning duties to firefighters, to train and drill them in firefighting and rescue techniques. I am also responsible for evaluating their performance and overseeing their advancement. I also monitor the care and maintenance of the fire station and all equipment, submit requests for new acquisitions and work with fire department budgets. As the Fire Chief, I also make sure firefighters follow established policies and procedures by keeping records and reports of all fire response actions.

NEPG: How do you manage the different personalities among your firefighters to make an impact not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?

Fire Chief Davidson: The fire department, like any other organization, has as many different personalities as they do personnel. Getting to know your personnel and how to motivate them is essential to being a successful administrator. Firefighters are continuously training and attending classes and seminars to improve their knowledge and skills, to provide the best services to the community. They need to make sure to apply this to their personal lives as well; to put in the same efforts in yourselves, and in your personal lives that you put into your career. We want to make sure that our firefighters live long and healthy lives, both physical health and mental health.

NEPG: Tell me a little bit about your family and how you manage your professional and personal lives without allowing one to affect the other?

Fire Chief Davidson: I am the very proud father of two beautiful 22-year-old twin daughters, who are the light of my life. I could not be more proud of the ladies they have grown to be. Managing a personal life and professional life is not an easy task, and to think they don’t affect each other is impossible. Being a Fire Chief is 24/7/365 responsibility. There is not a minute in my day that I am not caring for the men and women under my command. After office hours, I am tied to my cell phone, pager, and notification system. I want to make sure that my personnel knows that they are never alone… that we are always looking out for their safety and to make sure they have everything they need to do their jobs well and to get home safely to their loved ones. Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, 365 days a year, which also includes holidays. Not only do we make sacrifices with our families, but our families also make those sacrifices along with us. Balancing of personal and professional lives is not easy, if not impossible at times. The military gave me the discipline and self-determination to have a successful career and to serve the citizens we protect. 


Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Staff Writer

Winter Haven - This month, on The Student Leader of the Month, we want to feature a student from All Saints Academy in Winter Haven who has used her leadership role to make a difference in her school. We had the pleasure of interviewing Mileydy Tiffany Morales, and this is what she shared with us:

NEPG: Which grade are you attending right now? And what leadership position are you responsible for in your school?

Mileydy: I am currently a senior in high school. I have several leadership positions in my school, which include being a Student Ambassador, President of the French Honor Society, and Vice President of Key Club.

NEPG: Tell me about how your leadership approach has influenced others around you.

Mileydy: I try to lead by example and make sure that I can be relatable to the people I am trying to influence, as opposed to separating myself and putting myself on a pedestal. I think it has made people trust me a lot more.

NEPG: What are your plans for this upcoming school year?

Mileydy: This school year, I plan to continue on in my leadership roles and work to make new opportunities for the members of the clubs I am involved in. I also plan on organizing more community service events in our area for the members of, not only Key Club, but the entire All Saints Community.

NEPG: What would be your message for younger kids who are planning on taking a leadership role within their school/community?

Mileydy: I would say just go for it and plan on staying committed to at least one organization/activity. Pick something that you’re passionate about and something that you genuinely enjoy doing, that way it wouldn't feel like a chore to you.


Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 11:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Cassidy Carlson

Winter Haven - I rescued my dog, Daisy, 4 years ago, when she was supposed to be euthanized for having an upper respiratory problem. With the right medication, the condition cleared up and she came to her new home. Daisy was a stray after being left by her previous owner. She was underweight, had fleas, and heartworms.

   After multiple vet visits and prescriptions, we managed to restore her to health. It is easy to see that my family and I saved Daisy’s life, but what is also true is that she saved mine by providing me unmatched emotional support in my worst times.

   Daisy is my best friend and, on my bad days, she comforts me and never leaves my side. We have always been there for each other and always will be.

 Author the Author: Cassidy is a senior at All Saints Academy in Winter Haven.


Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 12:24 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: Mike Ferguson, Contributing Sport Writer

Davenport - When Nikki King was tabbed to lead Ridge Community High School's girls' basketball program, she had no experience as a head coach and the Bolts had no real history of success.

   Now, in her fourth season, King returns five of eight players from a squad that won more games than any other in program history. Looking to take the next step, Ridge Community has adopted the motto, "We Rise" for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

   "Teams have to prepare for us now," King said. "We're not the team people are scheduling for Senior Night anymore. They know we're capable of going to their gym and beating them."

   The Bolts finished 16-8 last season, which included a thrilling 56-55 victory over eventual district champion Haines City. That's a victory that King says is the biggest of her tenure.

   "We're the start of something new," senior guard Rosalinda Gonzalez said of the program's changing culture. "It doesn't matter what team we're playing. We compete."

   Despite last season's success, Ridge Community has fell one win shy of making the state tournament in each of the last two seasons. The Bolts' 2018-19 campaign came to an end with a 48-35 loss to Kissimmee Gateway in the district semifinals.

   "Getting to the playoffs is our main goal," Gonzalez said. "We've learned how to win and now is the time for us to start winning important games."

   After stints as a graduate assistant at Webber International University and as a junior varsity coach at Tenoroc High School, King said one of her first orders of business at Ridge was changing the program's culture. Each year, she said, she's tried to add new wrinkles from small aesthetic changes to team-building activities. That's on top of the program's most emphasized cornerstones like playing disciplined and fundamentally sound.

   "We've turned the program around and changed the culture entirely," King said. "We had a great summer of work. Our goal is not just to win, but to create a positive environment and be that parent away from home."

   Gonzalez returns after leading the team with about 14 points and seven rebounds per game. Other key returnees include Jaiyah Swift, who averaged nine points, four rebounds, and three steals last season and Nahessa Smith, who King called her top on-the-ball defender. Smith averaged five points, four rebounds, and three steals a season ago.

   "Defense is our strength," said Smith, a junior guard. "We're working on ways to get better and more confident on offense. Our goal as a team is to be better than last year."

   Swift said the team is close-knit, which is a big reason for its success. As a junior, Swift said she'll work to become a more consistent shooter and more of a vocal leader.

   "We play for each other," she said. "For a team that doesn't have a basketball reputation, it means a lot to be part of what we're building. We have a lot of bonding with our coaches that some other teams don't. More students and teachers are taking an interest (in the program)."

   Ridge's goal of getting to the state tournament will force the Bolts to go through a new district, 7A-6. Haines City and Kissimmee Osceola will remain in the Bolts' district but Celebration, Windermere, and Clermont East Ridge will replace Gateway and George Jenkins on the district slate. Ridge began conditioning in late August and will open its season on Oct. 19.

"We're looking to take the next step and gain some exposure for our program," King said. "We want the public to see our kids and just how hard they work."


About the Author: Mike Ferguson currently serves as the public information officer at the Haines City Police Department. A native of Polk County, Mike previously spent nearly five years as a full-time reporter at The Ledger. Mike contributes to a number of outlets and has work appearing in the Associated Press, Yahoo,, Athlon Sports and Sports Illustrated online among other publications. Mike earned his bachelor's degree from Florida State University in 2009. Mike and his wife Jennifer live in Davenport, Florida with their two children.

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 12:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 06 2019

By: M.C. Reyes, Editor-in-Chief

Lake Wales - When you visit the Lake Wales' Farmers Market, you will meet a lot of people, as I did, but apparently, I was about to miss the opportunity to meet one special person, so Rob, Donna's husband from RCDC Essentials prevented that. As I was getting ready to leave, Rob took me to meet who, he called, "the queen of the market." And oh boy, meeting her was a great pleasure. The queen of the Lake Wales' Farmers Market was no other that Iraida.

   For those who, like me, have had the pleasure of meeting her, you can tell that she is not only the queen of the place but also the "life of the party." A born and raised Cuban, Iraida came to the U.S. in 1964 and has been gracing us with her presence ever since.

   I invite you to stop by the market and say hi to her. Rumor has it that she sells the best goat cheese in town so that may be something to look for while at the market.


Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 12:04 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 05 2019

By: Staff Writer

Orlando - Have you ever heard of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention? For those who have never heard of it, for this edition, we would like to introduce you to them.

   According to its website, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), which was established in 1987, is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-24, the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 25-34, the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54, the 8th leading cause of death for ages 55-64, and the 16th leading cause of death for ages 65 & older.

   AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that is smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: Funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in their mission.

   Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. One of those chapters is here in Central Florida.

   The AFSP Central Florida Chapter is composed of a great group of volunteers whose main mission is to offer resources and services that are designed to support and guide loss survivors throughout their journey. Their Healing Conversations Program ( offers people the opportunity to talk with experienced volunteers who are themselves survivors of suicide loss and offer guidance and support as they grieve and heal.

   Each year, AFSP supports many large and small Survivor Day events around the world, in which suicide loss survivors come together to find connection, understanding, and hope through their shared experiences.

   As part of their mission, they also try to share the importance of self-care. According to Danyel Lieberman, a suicide loss survivor, and the HealingConversations Coordinator for The AFSP Central Florida Chapter, "During times of stress, it’s so easy to lose sight of ourselves and what we need both physically and mentally. It is very important to take some time to breathe and relax a bit. If possible, to take a walk, watch a movie, or even just sit and read a book. Taking care of ourselves allows us to also help others in our lives as well."

   For Danyel, it is important to start talking openly about suicide and how it affects those left behind in order to break down the fear and stigma associated with it. How does she know? Well, because she knows first hand how it feels to deal with the loss of a loved one who took his own life.

   We had the pleasure of speaking with Danyel and this is what she shared with us:

NEPG: Can you tell us about your brother?

Danyel: There’s so much to tell! My brother’s name is Shaun and he was only 33 years old when he died. He was so full of life, always smiling and always making others laugh. He had the most amazing sense of humor. Even when we were struggling, he could always make us smile and feel better. When I think of him, I think of the brightest light in the room. He was always helping others even though he was dealing with such difficulty in his own life. He started to struggle in his early 20’s and, after many years, was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks so you can imagine how difficult it was just to do what so many of us take for granted. Due to this, he also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. Shaun eventually took his own life on October 20, 2011.

NEPG: How did all this affect you and your family?

Danyel: We were devastated to hear the news of my brother’s passing. It was like life just stood still. We had so many unanswered questions that we knew we’d never get answers to and that’s so difficult to have to accept. We felt so alone. I remember a few days after the funeral thinking, “Is life just supposed to go on as nothing happened? ” I watched strangers around me going about their daily lives and I thought, “I wonder if they have any idea what pain and sadness I’m feeling, or how much I’m missing my brother today .” We, as a family, felt like we were the only family going through such tragedy and heartache. Over the next year, we tried to make sense of it all and spent as much time as we could supporting each other and helping each other day today. I’m so thankful for the love and strength that we have and the amazing family we're so blessed with because, truly, that is what got us through.

NEPG: How did AFSP help you move forward and come to peace with what happened to your brother?

Danyel: After about a year, I started to do some research online and look for organizations that offer support and services for suicide loss survivors and I came across AFSP. That was the day our healing journey began. I saw that our local chapter was planning an Out of the Darkness Walk in Orlando and I knew it would be a great way to come together as a family to honor my brother and to raise money for suicide prevention and research. I remember on that day walking up to these huge boards filled with pictures and letters to loved ones lost to suicide. I looked at the families surrounding those boards and I knew then that we were not alone. It was the first time I felt somewhat whole again and I knew that my mission was to help as many families as possible to never have to feel what my family felt with the loss of my brother. I thought to myself, “I can choose to be bitter or I can choose to be better, I choose better. ” I became involved with the Central Florida Chapter of AFSP shortly after the walk and have continued to walk every year in honor of my brother. I’m an active field advocate and have been to Washington D.C. to speak with legislators to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. I volunteer on the Polk County Out of the Darkness walk committee, tabling events, and I’m the Healing Conversations program Coordinator and Board member for our Central Florida Chapter. I know in my heart this is exactly what my brother would want me to do in his memory… help others.

NEPG: What message would you give to a person/family who is going through a similar situation?

Danyel: That there is hope… it's often so hard to know the right words to say to someone who has just lost a loved one to suicide. Though you can’t make the pain go away, supporting them and letting them know that they’re not alone in their loss is key. Being a friend, just sitting and listening to their feelings and acknowledging their loss can be comforting. I try to share my own healing journey with other loss survivors as well. I’ve found that, when loss survivors see me and my family as an example of better days ahead, they start to look for that light in their darkness and that provides them hope. Offering guidance to services and resources that are available is also very helpful in the healing process. I know for myself, it was difficult and confusing to know where to turn with so much on your mind and, because of this, many loss survivors don’t seek the help and support they need.

For more information on the Survivor Day events, you can visit

Photo: Facebook

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 05 2019

By: Dr. Eugenia Agard, Guest Contributor

   Did you know that over 44,965 Americans die each year as a result of suicide? Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 years old and for those 24- 35 years old, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States. Statistically, white middle-aged men have the highest rate of death by suicide. What all this equates to, sadly, is that every 12 minutes someone dies due to suicide, resulting in an alarming 123 deaths per day according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Further, if we specifically look at the rate of suicide for our veterans, it is reported that 22 soldiers die by suicide each day, which means every 65 minutes we lose a member of the United States Armed Forces.

   When we look at gender and the risk of suicide, we learn that women have a higher incidence of suicidal ideation and they also attempt suicide at higher rates than men. Women, when attempting to commit suicide, tend to use methods of poisoning (overdosing on pills). Due to this, if discovered early, medical procedures can be effective in aiding in the patient’s recovery.

   Unfortunately, this is not the same for men. Men are more likely to die by suicide than women since men use more lethal weapons (firearms) to commit suicide, thus men die by suicide 3.54 more times than woman.

   When we look at suicide rates across the world, globally approximately 800,000 dies by suicide, this amounts to a loss of life every 40 seconds. Unfortunately, there are many cases of suicide attempts never reported. For those that do not die by suicide, there were over 575,000 attempts of suicide reported as “self-harm reports” at treating hospitals. As can be seen, suicide does not discriminate and affects

people from all walks of life, age, gender, and backgrounds.

   Now that we are more knowledgeable about the devastating statistics of suicide, we must now be informed of the risk factors and symptoms in order to assist a loved one or anyone experiencing suicidal ideation to prevent further loss of precious lives.

   It is important to understand that there is a correlation between depression and suicide. Many people suffer from depression... in fact 1 out of 5 people suffer from a mental health condition, but only 40-50 percent of people ever seek support for their symptoms.

   This is a dangerous occurrence as depression, left untreated, can lead to high risk for suicidal ideation. Some other identifiable warning signs (list is not conclusive) can occur when a person feels hopeless, feels the pain will never end and or there will never be any relief, the person is sleeping too much or too little, the person demonstrates extreme mood swings, isolates from family and friends, and presents significant changes in behaviors. For some, there is also increased dependence on substance use (alcohol/ drugs).

   If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please do not wish it away or think it is a phase that will pass. Please, seek professional help as there is no weakness or dishonor in asking for help, as it can save a life, even your own. In listening to many people that attempted suicide and survived, we learned that many, with treatment, found hope and were grateful they failed the attempt. When people are depressed or experiencing great challenges in their lives, at times, it seems there is no hope, no end to the pain, but I am writing to let you know, there is another option and things do get better.

   Remember, when one is feeling extremely low, it is difficult to see anything positive, the heart feels no hope, but I am writing to let you know that you are so worthy of life and love, and you too can heal. Please, seek help. Right now, you can call 211 to be linked to a Mental Health Provider in your region. You can call the Suicide hotline number listed below and talk to a live person. You can also be seen now as a walk-in to the local behavioral health treatment facilities listed below. If you are at imminent risk, please call 911 now. You are not alone in this world. If you need someone, we are here for you. Let a Licensed Mental Health Provider assist you to heal past the hurt. HUGS Therapy Services is here to embrace you as well, we are only one HUG away.

   No matter how dark it seems, please do not give up, healing is transforming, and healing is available to you. Remember, you do matter.


About the Author: Eugenia Agard is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and contributor from HUGS Therapy Services. HUGS Therapy Services (Outpatient Services)

Posted by: Content Coordinator AT 10:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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