In Wake of Bellmore Senior’s Suicide Santino Launches Senior Suicide Hotline: Supervisor Discusses Senior “Holiday Season” Depression

Days after Nassau County Police discovered the backyard burial of an elderly Bellmore Veteran who apparently committed suicide, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, and Councilmen Gary Hudes and Anthony D’Esposito announced the launch of a Senior Suicide Hotline. Working in tandem with the Long Island Crisis Center (LICC), the town officials offered detailed information on the 24/7 helpline that will assist mature residents who are in crisis. In addition to telephone counseling and referral services, LICC will be conducting a series of 16 seminars dealing with grief, loneliness and depression during the holiday season. Experts indicate that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for senior citizens who are battling depression.

“We have just witnessed a tragic apparent suicide in this community,” stated Santino. “The town and the Long Island Crisis Center are working together to prevent senior suicide, combat depression and help people who are in crisis.”

The Senior Connection Helpline is a 24/7 service that will give seniors in crisis the critical help they deserve. The helpline is staffed with highly trained professionals and exceptional volunteers, and thanks to a grant from the Town of Hempstead’s Planning and Economic Development Department, the service is available completely free of charge. Additionally, the LICC will be visiting each of the 16 senior centers within the Town of Hempstead to spread the word of the helpline and their other services.

“Personal crises can be painfully overwhelming,” said Hudes. “It is my hope that seniors take some comfort in knowing that this option is out there.”           

“Seniors face an extraordinary amount of stress each day and have thrived through times that would make the smartphone generation quake in their boots,” stated D’Esposito. “Our seniors are an invaluable asset to our community, and we’re looking to lend them the same kind of help that they have given to us a thousand times over.”

The Supervisor also mentioned that the holiday season can be particularly difficult for many mature people. Issues such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the “Holiday Blues,” can manifest themselves through depressive symptoms. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common during winter months when some senior citizens do not have the same level of day-to-day contact and interaction with people that they may enjoy during warmer months with longer periods of daylight.

“The holidays can be a tough time and a lonely season for many senior citizens,” stated Santino. “Fortunately, the Long Island Crisis Center and the town’s active senior citizen centers are helping mature people cope with the holiday blues. Call the LICC and visit one of our senior centers, make new friends, and know that we are here to offer support and assistance.”

The LICC has over 45 years of suicide prevention experience which will be available through the Senior Connection Helpline. Their staff members utilize the “Active Listening Skills” method to speak with the troubled callers. The LICC responds to more than 11,000 calls annually on telephone hotlines, online chat sessions and walk-in counseling.

All of us at the Crisis Center are thrilled to be partnering with the Town of Hempstead in providing a Senior Connection Helpline. As Nassau County’s only 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, we will be providing short-term counseling, support and resources to very important people in all our lives – our senior citizens,” states Linda Leonard, Executive Director. “With families now spread out across the country, it will be reassuring for them to know that older family members will now have a direct line for assistance with such issues as isolation, grief, depression, resources for help, etc. Our counselors will let our callers know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and problems. Our sincere thanks to Supervisor Santino for his vision and his pro-active approach in making this partnership happen.”

The Senior Connection Helpline is available at (516)679-0000.

“The Long Island Crisis Center and Hempstead Town are working together to prevent senior suicide and help mature neighbors deal with personal crises,” concluded Santino. “Together we can make this holiday season and the entire year more stress free for seniors and help them cope with issues such as loneliness and depression.”