Help for Older Adults Thinking of Suicide

Acknowledge –Care-Tell

Depression and the emotional pain or feelings of emptiness due the loss of a loved one or health problems can improve with support, communication, and treatment. Our community cares and wants to make help available to any older adult who might be thinking of ending his life. Needham also wants to reach out to family members and friends who are concerned about an older adult’s safety and well-being.

If You or Someone You Know is Thinking About Suicide

Call 911 or
781 769 8674  Immediately
(Riverside Mental Health Center’s response line)
There will be someone there to listen and help you.

Talking With Someone is the First Step

If you are an older adult thinking about ending your life, please wait before you do anything. Let someone know how you are feeling. Speak to a friend, medical provider, clergy or family member, social worker or anyone with whom you feel comfortable.  People care and will feel relieved, not burdened, that you have confided in them.  You can start by saying something simple like the following:
“I want you to know that I have been so unhappy that I have been thinking about ending my life.”

If you are a friend or family member who is worried about an older adult, talk to him about your concern.  One out of every four older adults who attempts suicide in the United States completes it compared to one out of twenty five in all other age groups.  In fact, in Massachusetts, older adults, especially elder males, have the highest rate of suicide of any age group. To help, acknowledge that you believe the person has been thinking about ending his life and tell him what you have observed. Ask him in a non-judgmental and accepting manner to tell you what he is thinking. You could start the conversation by saying something like the following:
“I have observed you (withdrawing from all your friends). I am worried about you and want to ask if you have been thinking about ending your life.”

Your Community, Family, and Friends Care About You

As an older adult who is very unhappy, you may not believe that your family members, friends and community care about you, but they do.  People want to know how unhappy you are and have effective help to offer you. Letting someone know about your thoughts of ending your life is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength that you have the courage to admit you have a problem and seek help.

If you are concerned about an older adult who may have expressed directly or indirectly his distress, pain and suicidality, tell him that you care, want him to be safe, and that there is help for him. Reassure him that he will not be alone and that he can feel better.

Getting Help Means Telling Professionals Help Is Needed
As an older adult, you may not feel you know who to tell about your thoughts of wanting to end your life. You can tell your family, a friend, your clergy, a caregiver or your medical provider.  They want to help you to feel better and happier about your life. They will get professional help that can do even more to improve your feelings.

If you are concerned about an older adult who has told you about his suicidal thinking or has shown signs of suicidal thought, you should call for help right away.           

For immediate help, call anytime           

The Riverside Emergency Service for Needham: 781 769 8674    
The Emergency Service of the Needham Police Department: dial 911


Go to the Needham Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Needham (the old Glover Hospital)  Emergency Room (Anytime)

If you are not sure what is happening or what to do, call the following numbers for information and support to help you determine the best way to help yourself, your friend or your loved one.

The Riverside Emergency Service for Needham: 781 769 8674  (Anytime)
In Needham, you can call
The Council on Aging Social Service Staff: 781–455-7555
( Monday – Friday,  9 –5)

The Health Department Nurses at 781-455-7523
(Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM)

Signs that an Older Adult May Be at Risk of Suicide

Older adults show verbal, behavioral, situational, and symptomatic signs of suicide. If, as an older adult, you are showing any of these signs, please tell someone about your thoughts and feelings. If you are a friend or family member, these signs indicate a reason to speak to and get help for the older adult in your life. (source: Osgood, N., 1985, Suicide in the Elderly, A Practioners Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment,  Aspen Publications)

Verbal Signs
            I’m going to end it all.
            I’m going to kill myself
            What’s the point of going on?
            Who cares if I am dead anyway
            You would be better off without me
            Soon you won’t have to worry about me anymore


Behavioral Signs
Purchasing or owning a gun
Stockpiling pills
Making or changing a will (if it does not seem reasonable)
Giving away possessions
Unexplained behaviors or rejection of friends or family
Substance, medication or alcohol abuse
Loss of understanding, judgment or memory

Situations which May Precipitate Suicidal Thoughts
Recent move
Death of a spouse, child, or friend
Diagnosis of a terminal illness
Recent arguments with family members
Serious problems in relationships

Symptoms which May Accompany Suicidal Thinking
Depression accompanied by anxiety
Significantly increased tension and agitation
Dependency particularly when needs are being frustrated

It is never wrong to ask for help. The Needham community is dedicated to ensuring that everyone, no matter what age, will be responded to when he asks for help for distress, pain or thoughts of ending one’s life.   
cknowledges the needs to support our older adults
Cares through the outreach or friends, family, and community representatives
ells by ensuring the connection of those who can help to its older adults in need.


Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Support and Help Around You