Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Health

Hooper: Widow Wendy LaTorre offers unvarnished truths about suicide

Wendy LaTorre calls them the big three.

It was bad enough that a grieving LaTorre had to deal with the publicity from the high-profile suicide of her husband, William LaTorre, a year ago this month.

She described it as a pain so profound she struggled to get out of bed some days.

Then came the three haunts:

Judgment. Gossip. Abandonment.

Judgment? Some told her it was a sin or a coward's way out, even though experts say it's neither.

Gossip? People whispered that her husband must have been dealing with financial problems or marital discord. But that wasn't the case.

Abandonment? Friends and loved ones shied away from her, unable to understand what happened. It's an experience other survivors of suicide have gone through. Worse still, some even blame the surviving spouse or parent.

"That's one I never expected," she said. "These people that are struggling so hard with this crippling horror, then to add having to deal with being blamed and abandoned as well? It's unbelievably heartless and cruel."

The day after her husband of 38 years committed suicide, Wendy LaTorre publicly vowed to make it okay to talk about the issue. A year later, she's fulfilling that promise as a participant in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk from 10 a.m. to noon today at South Straub Park, 250 Bayshore Drive at Second Avenue NE.

She knows she's not alone in trying to persevere. Suicide is the 10th-biggest killer in the U.S., ninth in Florida. Men make up 79 percent of all suicides nationally, and the fastest-growing rate is among men older than 50. Her husband was nearing his 74th birthday when he died.

Dr. William LaTorre made headlines in 1989 when the St. Petersburg chiropractor crashed his 35-foot speedboat into a 17-foot powerboat on Memorial Day weekend. The collision in the Intracoastal Waterway near Indian Rocks Beach killed four teenagers and injured another.

The next year, a jury acquitted him of four counts of vessel homicide. And although they thought of fleeing from the disdain that lingered in the community, the couple chose to stay among the love and support of friends. In the wake of his death last year, Wendy LaTorre said her husband overcame the bitterness.

However, after speaking with William LaTorre's therapist and reading his journals, she knows now that her husband, whom she calls Billy, suffered from depression — probably for most of his life. That condition only worsened after the boating accident.

The therapist treated him for post-traumatic stress disorder, but she believes his bouts with depression proved to be episodic, coming and going.

"He hid it well," Wendy LaTorre said. "He was always the life of the party, always laughing, always telling the best jokes. The boat accident never left him.

"He suffered terribly, was haunted by it, and from his journals I learned that his flashbacks had come back early 2013."

She believes her husband's struggle grew greater as he grew older. He believed his name always would be associated with the tragedy. Five days before his death, the LaTorres attended a charity event that honored community contributors.

"When we got home, he said he was never going again," she said. "I said, 'Why? We had a great time, laughing with friends, dancing and we always go.'

"He said, 'Because no matter how much I do for this community, I will never be nominated because of the accident.' That's how he felt. He had a soft heart in a cruel world."

Now LaTorre says her mission is to create awareness, not alarm. She emphasizes that depression can be diagnosed and treated, and that many people who suffer depression never attempt suicide.

She believes the walk will live up to its title, take the subject out of the darkness and bring more support to survivors. If her efforts help only one person, she will be happy, because "Billy would be proud."

I think the entire community should be proud.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18
U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Thursday approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. The Food and Drug Administration’s action clears the monthly shot Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) for sale. It’s the first in a new class of long-acting dru...
Published: 05/18/18
Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day, and the American Medical Association is encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure levels and get high blood pressure, or hypertension, under control. High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as the...
Published: 05/17/18
Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Study: Depression in men may lower chances for pregnancy

Women having trouble getting pregnant sometimes try yoga, meditation or mindfulness, and some research suggests that psychological stress may affect infertility. But what about men: Does their mental state affect a couple’s ability to conceive?The la...
Published: 05/17/18
Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

Tampa General Hospital named among top 100 in U.S., second best in Florida

TAMPA—Tampa General Hospital was named one of the top 100 hospitals in America for the fifth consecutive year, and second best in Florida, according to one health industry website.Tampa General is considered the best hospital in the Tampa area, accor...
Published: 05/16/18
Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Joe Redner asks Florida Supreme Court: Let me grow marijuana now

Even though a circuit judge has ruled that Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner can grow and juice his own marijuana, he was barred from doing so until the appeals process is finished.So Redner’s lawyers filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court o...
Published: 05/15/18
Heated chemo is the key as Tampa General doctor tackles ovarian cancer

Heated chemo is the key as Tampa General doctor tackles ovarian cancer

Over the span of three weeks, Brenda Gotlen watched as her abdomen got bigger. Her lower stomach felt bloated."It got to the point that I looked nine months pregnant," said Gotlen, a 62-year-old Seffner resident. She made an appointment to see her pr...
Published: 05/15/18
Some health premiums will go up next year. Which party should we blame this time?

Some health premiums will go up next year. Which party should we blame this time?

As some insurers angle for hefty premium hikes and concerns grow that more Americans will wind up uninsured, the federal health law is likely — once again — to play big in both parties’ strategies for the contentious 2018 election.Candidates are alre...
Published: 05/15/18
Blood donations from the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’ saved millions of babies

Blood donations from the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’ saved millions of babies

When he was 14, James Harrison needed surgery. And as he would come to find out, he would also need a significant amount ofstrangers’ blood to survive it.After he had recovered and as soon as he became an adult, Harrison felt compelled to pay it forw...
Published: 05/14/18