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Florida man dies by suicide after service dog is killed by alligator

PARRISH, Fla. – A man died by suicide after his service dog was eaten by an alligator last week in Manatee County, Florida, WFLA reports.

Andrew Epp died Saturday, just one day after his dog Java was killed by an alligator near a dog park that sits close to Buffalo Creek.

The dog park is located near wetlands and the attack reportedly happened after Java got loose while outside the fence around Dog Leg Park. On Friday, the Bradenton Herald reported that signs have been put up to warn dog owners and others in the area.

Buffalo Creek, is also the site of a golf course which has made headlines over the years thanks to numerous sightings of gators, including one slow-moving, 15-foot beast known to locals as “Chubbs.”

A gator trapper was sent to the area, but nothing has since been caught, according to WFLA.

Epp’s family said they wanted him to see a mental health professional immediately after Java’s death; he was told the earliest he could get an appointment was August.

A GoFundMe has been set up to cover Epp’s funeral costs.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) . It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.

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