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).
If you are concerned for someone else, read about warning signs here. For additional resources, see the Speaking of Suicide website.
It seems to me that the Alexis Sommerfield case has yet to be determined to be a suicide, There are holes in THAT story that any fool could drive a truck through.
I attended the Suicide Prevention Town Hall and was very concerned about the lack of psychiatric services in our community, particularly for senior citizens who generally face a number of serious health issues that are very difficult to deal with emotionally, financially, and socially. My question continues to be why haven’t the powers that be push the health community to recruit competent mental health practitioners to our community? And why don’t we push the hospital to provide a mental health unit? As it exists, Baker Acted individuals have to be transported to Volusia County for treatment and then released back to our community with non-existent follow-up services. We need to act on this situation NOW rather than play the usual political games with these “summits” and then having nothing occur. They emphasize that help is available. REALLY??? Not true! This is disgraceful and very concerning!
The county needs to pull it’s head from it’s own behind and start living in the real world where people need help and not everyone is a well to do senior citizen but families that are struggling with drug addiction and financial burdens. Real life situations that require treatment centers and counseling. Flagler County denies its residents the proper facility to help with their issues in the hopes that the county will be precieved to not have those problems. It’s a sick sick world when the ones in charge try to make their constitutes live in an unhealthy environment.
Jimmy Day says
It’s very sad, he was a good person.
Veteran in Palm Coast says
I want to pass on to the family my prayers and the family deserves the respect in their time of need. I am a Veteran and I have to really say that any VA regardless if it is a hospital or clinic will see you regardless if you have an appointment. If you are not enrolled you can go to Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tampa or Orlando VA Hospital to be seen for mental health. Also you can be seen at a Vet Center, you will have to locate the number and address, but you do have to bring a DD214 There is an 800 number you can call to talk to a counselor on the phone and they can advise you. But those who are not veterans you have to go through your physician for a referral and then be seen. Today healthcare is worse than it has been before, those who want to retire cannot due to medical issues. I think there is a Mental Health Crisis in this country and it is time for reforms and having immident access to Mental Health Resources.
@Dave Thanks👍🏽Well said!