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Long Island Town Partners With Crisis Center To Staff Hotline For Suicidal Seniors

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- One in three seniors over the age of 65 will experience a serious crisis, which will cause them to question the meaning of their lives, with some even considering suicide.

The holiday season is a particularly difficult time, but as CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, there is help available.

"People in their senior years, particularly at this time of year entering the holiday season, can be subject to fits of depression, bouts of suicidal thoughts," Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said.

To reach out, the town is partnering with Long Island Crisis Center to staff a suicide prevention hotline specifically for seniors.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week trained professionals will be ready to take incoming calls.

Of all age groups, seniors 85 years and older have the highest suicide rate. The leading cause is isolation.

The Bellmore seniors Murdock spoke with said the hotline is a needed.

"As people get old, their thoughts start changing. Their families may not call them," one man said.

"There are a lot that have nobody," Caroline Fiorentino said.

"I think it will take others to call for them," Frank Gallo said.

In addition to answering calls, LICC staff will be placing outreach calls to check on those most at risk.

"Seniors are reluctant to ask for help," Executive Director of LICC Linda Lenoard said. "What the community can do, which would be enormous, is to identify individuals at risk."

The Town of Hempstead plans to mail flyers to seniors highlighting signs of depression and the suicide prevention hotline number. The LICC will also host several seminars on loneliness and depression to spread the word and importance of reaching out.

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