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Advocate talks mental health awareness after the death of Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez

Mental health advocates said calling 211 is one way to quickly ask for help if you or a loved one is struggling.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Suicide prevention and mental health awareness are in the spotlight once again this week. 

It was suicide that led to Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez's death, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner. Ramirez was 28.

The news also comes after a murder-suicide involving a mother and her two sons on Wednesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

The incidents are a reminder that mental health stigma still exists, said Clara Reynolds, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay president.

Reynolds is urging anyone struggling with their mental health to know resources are available, especially by dialing 211.

“When somebody is in that dark place it’s usually because they’ve lost sense of that hope. What we want to say is that that is not the case, there is help available," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said COVID-19 and the political climate have contributed to worsening people's mental health. Lack of resources and funding continues to be a challenge for mental health advocates, Reynolds said. She added that Florida tends to rank lower nationwide when it comes to funding.

Despite the problem, Reynolds said help will always be available no matter what.

"If somebody reaches out for help, there are a myriad of ways that help can be provided," Reynolds said. "While we need more resources, I don't want anyone to use that as an excuse not to seek help."

Reynolds said resources for help are not just for people looking for help but also for friends and loved ones looking to help but don't know how. 

More common alcohol use or changes in appetite may constitute red flags but Reynolds said if you suspect something, trust your gut. 

NAMI Hillsborough offers many ways to get help if you are struggling to deal with all of the anxiety and uncertainty with support groups and classes. 

You can reach the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay by dialing 211, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- TALK.