Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death by apparent suicide of Richard S. Hartung, 76, in his condominium at 7 Avenue de la Mer in Palm Coast on May 30.
Detectives have been investigating three apparent suicides in a stretch of eight days, between the death of 27-year-old Alexis Somerford on May 26 and that of Ralph Lockwood, 63, on June 2, both in Palm Coast and by firearm. Detectives observed that Hartung had cut his wrist, according to a sheriff’s incident report.
Sheriff’s deputies found him the evening of May 30 on a lounge chair on his back porch, where he was visible to other residents. He had moved to the residence only a few months ago. He suffered from numerous medical issues, according to the incident report and the daughter of Hartung’s 76-year-old wife.
The daughter and Hartung’s wife had gone to a high school graduation ceremony that afternoon. Hartung’s wife called him several times but did not get an answer. Once back at the house, she found a letter near the entrance, on the floor. Her daughter took it, realized it was “an apparent suicide letter,” the report states, and advised her mother to wait nearby and not go further into the house. She soon called 911.
A paramedic with Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Engine 41 pronounced Richard Hartung dead at 8:13 p.m.
Hartung had been admitted to AdventHealth Palm Coast only the previous week with serious health issues–recurrences that had plagued him over the years. He had attempted to make an appointment with his psychiatrist but was told he could not be seen until June 11.
One of Palm Coast’s and Flagler County’s many issues regarding mental health is the dearth of psychiatrists in the region, and an equally grave lack of mental health services. Those issues were discussed at Flagler’s first suicide-prevention town hall two weeks ago.
The sheriff’s crime scene investigator, detectives and the medical examiner then arrived at the scene, each conducting a part of the investigation. Hartung’s body was transported to the medical examiner’s office in St. Augustine for an autopsy, as is routine in such cases.
The following resources are available for individuals in crisis:
In Flagler: The Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit (CTTU) is a crisis assessment and referral service for Flagler County residents experiencing behavioral health crisis. It is located at 301 Justice Lane in the Brown & Brown Outpatient building at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell. This program is limited to individuals escorted to the program by law enforcement between the hours of noon and midnight daily. Law enforcement is able to transport individuals to SMA to assess and determine the appropriate clinical disposition. When required and appropriate, SMA then transports the individual to a receiving facility in Volusia County.
In Daytona Beach: Stewart-Marchman Act Corporation Crisis Center
1220 Willis Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Crisis Line: (800) 539 – 4228
Available 24 hours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800/273-8255 (TALK).