In the Cape and Islands region, we’re most well-known for our signs posted at the Bourne and Sagamore bridges imploring tourists and locals alike to call our crisis lines if they need to talk. Although our crisis lines are an integral part of our work, The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands offers a variety of outreach programs for people in need and educational opportunities for community members eager to learn how to help save lives.
From our Senior Outreach Program to our Safe Place support groups, there are a variety of ways we make a difference in our community. Keep reading or contact our office to find out more about our programs and how you can get involved.
The staff and volunteers of The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands are always available to provide educational presentations and suicide prevention materials to area businesses, community groups, and health and human services professionals. Whether it’s presenting at a Rotary club meeting at 6 a.m. or manning a booth on a Saturday night at the Barnstable County Fair, we believe every opportunity to work directly in the community helps strengthen our region’s ability to prevent suicides.
Our goal is to help community members understand that suicide knows no boundaries and that everyone is affected by this public health concern. Our hope is that by de-stigmatizing suicide, increasing awareness about suicide prevention strategies and warning signs, and by connecting people in crisis with much-needed resources that we will decrease the number of suicides in our community.
Please contact our office if you, your community group, or business would like to learn more about suicide prevention and how to help save lives.
It’s not always easy to tell someone when you’re experiencing difficulties in life. Perhaps this is even more so for the seniors in our community – a proud, independent generation who are accustomed to making do on their own. The Samaritans know that sometimes all we need is a little extra support, and our Senior Outreach program provides that support safely and with dignity.
Created in 2009 in response to the growing need of seniors in our community, Senior Outreach is a referral program where outgoing calls are made to isolated or at-risk older adults. Participants are matched with a Samaritan-trained volunteer who calls the senior once or twice each week. Conversations are confidential, and provide a safe place for older adults to talk about whatever is troubling them most without fear of judgment or repercussion.
It’s reassuring to our staff to know that [anonymous] receives a call from the Samaritans each week. She’s quite active at our center, taking part in bingo and various field trips, but she doesn’t always open up about what’s going on in her life. She lives by herself and has said she doesn’t like to “bother” her kids, but we all need someone to talk to. We know she looks forward to her weekly call with her Samaritan volunteer.
Most participants join the program because they were referred by their Council on Aging, a community group, or concerned family member. But seniors who would like to self-refer into the program are always welcome to join. The program is free and available to any individual age 55 years or older.
If you have been impacted by health problems, retirement, social isolation, the loss of loved ones, depression, or have concerns about aging, our volunteers are here to listen with compassion and empathy. Or if you know of a senior who might be isolated, lonely, or simply in need of a caring voice, please contact our office to find out more about how we can match that senior with a volunteer in our Senior Outreach program.
This agency and its programs are funded (in whole or in part) by a contract from Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands, the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Federal Administration for Community Living. This program is free to participants but donations are accepted.
For those who interact with seniors in their personal, professional, or volunteer activities, our Elder Suicide Prevention Training for Cape and Islands Communities is an excellent way to learn how to actively listen and positively engage a senior who may be at risk for suicide.
Developed in 2011 by the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands, this localized suicide prevention training is designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among adults age 55 and older. The day-long training is open to the public and is appropriate for both lay people and health professionals. Librarians, bus drivers, social workers, care managers, and nursing home administrators have all been among past attendees. And registered nurses, licensed mental health clinicians, and social workers who attend the class will receive seven (7) Continuing Education Credits.
After the class, attendees are better able to understand the warning signs of suicide in older adults; develop strategies for early intervention and prevention; and learn effective methods for active listening and engagement with older adults who are suicidal. Most importantly, attendees feel more comfortable about how to ask someone if they are suicidal and are better prepared to find further support for those in need in our region.
Based on best practices in Canada and Australia as well as established Cape and Islands Samaritan training models, our Elder Suicide Prevention Training for Cape and Islands Communities is offered periodically throughout the year.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the next training date?
March 26, 2019 at the Sandwich, MA and June 26, 2019 in Harwich, MA
Who are the presenters?
Stephanie Kelly, Executive Director of the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands
After many years serving individuals with developmental disabilities, Stephanie joined the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands in 2011. Stephanie holds a B.S. in counseling psychology. As a result of her love of working within a group dynamic, she has served as a facilitator for Samaritans Safe Place, A Second Chance, and A Second Chance Families support groups. She has also served as a volunteer trainer and as a presenter at community education and outreach events. Stephanie is a member of the Cape & Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition and serves on the Steering Committee for the CISPC. She is also a member of the MA Coalition for Suicide Prevention and serves on the Executive Committee for the MCSP. In 2018, Stephanie was appointed by Governor Baker to serve as a member of the Special Commission to Study Correctional Officer Suicide Prevention.
Karen Ellery-Jones, Assistant Director of the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands
Karen began employment at Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands in 2016 and and has an extensive background in training for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Karen oversees the Safe Place program for suicide loss survivors as well as the Senior Outreach program which provides caring contact between volunteers and elders participants. In addition, Karen serves as a volunteer trainer and as a presenter at community education and outreach events. She is a certified Question, Persuade, Prefer (QPR) trainer and a member of the Community Health Network Area 27 (CHNA 27).
Is there a fee for the training?
With funding from the Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Program, we are able to offer the training and CEs free of charge. We only ask that cancellations be received 24 hours in advance.
What is the schedule for the day?
8:45-9:00 am — Registration
9:00-9:40 am — Introduction
9:40-10:45 am — Part I: The Aging Process
10:45-10:50 am — Break
10:50 am-12:30 pm — Part II: Depression in Older Adults
12:30-1:00 pm — Lunch
1:00-2:15 pm — Part III: Suicide in Older Adults
2:15-2:20 pm — Break
2:20-4:45 pm — Part IV: Active Listening and Engagement
4:45-5:00 pm — Training Evaluations, Certificates of Attendance, CEs
What topics or content will we cover? What will our learning objectives be?
Part I: The Aging Process
- Recognizing suicidal ideation in seniors
- Life changes
- Myths about aging
- Research and attitudes to aging, mental health, and suicide
- Recognize the signs of suicide in the older adult population
- Identify common changes as we age and analyze attitudes toward aging that may impact ability to detect suicidal ideation
- Identify effective strategies for engagement in working with older people
Part II: Depression in Older Adults
- Mental health problems are not an inevitable part of aging
- Depression in seniors: myth vs. truth
- What’s depression all about?
- Anxiety disorders and depression
- Recognize the different between issues of normal aging and mental health conditions
- Identify ways depression can manifest in older adults
- Determine how early intervention can greatly reduce a senior’s risk for suicide
Part III: Suicide in Older Adults
- Why do people attempt suicide?
- Warning signs of suicide
- Issues surrounding suicide in older adults
- Key messages about suicide in later life
- Risk factors/protective factors for suicide in older adults
- Suicide assessment process
- Levels of risk and risk management strategies
- Assess the impact of suicide in the US and its role in American Culture
- Identify risk factors, levels of risk, protective factors, and warning signs for suicide in older adults
- Recognize local services that are available for older adults at risk for suicide
Part IV: Active Listening and Engagement
- What do you say?
- How to actively listen
- Helpful hints for active listening
- Helpful listening phrases
- Key questions
- Factors to consider before asking seniors questions about suicide
- Create ease when talking about suicide with others
- Identify effective methods for active listening and engagement with older adults who are suicidal
- Recognize key questions to ask older adults at risk for suicide
Is there a target audience for the training?
This beginner level training is appropriate for both lay people and health professionals.
Are Continuing Education Credits being offered?
Continuing Education Credit is pending through Commonwealth Education Seminars for the following professions:
Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors:
Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LMHCs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Social Workers. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for Social Workers. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
As an American Psychological Association (APA) approved provider, CES programs are accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). These courses can be utilized by nurses to renew their certification and will be accepted by the ANCC. Every state Board of Nursing accepts ANCC approved programs except California and Iowa, however CES is also an approved Continuing Education provider by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider # CEP15567) which is also accepted by the Iowa Board of Nursing.
Note: It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.
Are your trainings held in facilities that are accessible to differently-abled individuals?
Yes. We request that individuals needing special accommodations, please contact Stephanie Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-548-7999.
What if I have a grievance?
Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands seeks to ensure equitable treatment of every person and to make every attempt to resolve grievances in a fair manner. Please submit a written grievance to: Stephanie Kelly, email@example.com, 508-548-7999.
Losing a loved one to suicide is a painful and difficult experience that can leave survivors feeling isolated. Safe Place provides those who have lost someone to suicide a caring, confidential support group where they do not have to be alone with their grief.
Safe Place is free of charge, ongoing, and confidential. Meetings are facilitated by Samaritan-trained volunteers, many of whom are survivors themselves. A welcoming, safe environment is created which honors and respects the needs of all participants.
Every loss survivor grieves differently and at his own pace. During a session, survivors can choose to share as little or as much as they like. Some survivors bring a friend or family member for support; others bring photos of the loved one they lost. There is no “right” time to start attending and there is not a recommended number of meetings you need to attend – the only thing that matters is what feels right to each survivor.
Loss survivors are invited to attend a session whenever they feel comfortable doing so. If anyone would like to learn more about Safe Place before attending, or to confirm meeting locations and times, please contact our office.
Survivors of suicide loss are often confronted with many – sometimes unanswerable – questions as they begin the healing process after a friend or loved one has died by suicide. Talking with other loss survivors with shared experience can be therapeutic; but not everyone is interested in attending a support group and sometimes support groups aren’t available locally.
We began our Care Package program to address this need and to help loss survivors receive support during their most private moments. Each Care Package contains books, brochures, articles, and online resources that other loss survivors have found helpful as they grieve. Specific books for children, parents, siblings, spouses, or friends can be included within each package. Care Packages are available free of charge, and can be mailed anywhere in the United States.
I had no one I was able to talk to after losing my closest friend. People around me either didn’t understand or thought they would upset me more by talking about him. Nighttime was the worst for me. I could never sleep, always thinking “what if” over and over again. So I kept the care package next to my bed. It’s helped me feel less alone. Thank you, Samaritans, for caring.
If you have lost someone to suicide, we can send the Care Package directly to your address. If you would like to give a Care Package to someone you know, we would like to mail the package to you so the survivor isn’t surprised to receive an unsolicited package. You may then share it with the survivor when the time is right.
Please call our office to learn more or click the button below to receive a Care Package. All information is kept confidential.
Requesting a Care Package
All information is confidential.
If you would like to receive a Care Package, or send one to someone you know, please share your name and email address below.
Your Email Address:
We are so very sorry that you (or someone you know) has lost a loved one to suicide. The information you have shared has been sent to our office and will remain confidential. Once we have contacted you for your mailing address, we will be sure to mail the Care Package as soon as possible.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Or, if you just need someone to talk to, please call our Crisis Lines day or night.
The time after a suicide attempt can be very confusing and filled with conflicting emotions. Many attempt survivors feel ashamed or guilty or even angry that they are still alive. Because of the stigma associated with suicide, attempt survivors often find it difficult to reach out. They feel isolated and alone and don’t know where to turn.
Talking with others who have similar experiences can be an important part of healing after a suicide attempt. A Second Chance offers a safe, non-judgmental place for people to talk about the feelings that led them to attempt suicide, to talk about the impact their attempt had on their lives, and to build resiliency by identifying resources and coping strategies for the future.
There hasn’t been a Tuesday night that I haven’t reflected on how meaningful our group was and continues to be to me. The insight into one another’s lives carries forward. — A participant
Each 8-week session is confidential, free and facilitated by two Samaritan-trained volunteers – at least one of whom is an attempt survivor. Please contact our office to learn more or to participate in the next session.
Funding for this program is generously provided by:
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Suicide Prevention Program
Our crisis lines receive over 25,000 phone calls each year from people in need. Some callers feel overwhelmed, sad, or lonely. Others feel angry or confused, and may have nowhere else to turn.
Each crisis line phone call is answered by a Samaritan volunteer who has been extensively trained in non-judgmental active listening. They do not problem-solve or offer opinions. Instead they simply listen and allow a caller to truly unburden.
Callers sometimes worry they shouldn’t call the crisis lines if they are not suicidal. You do not have to be suicidal to call. Simply needing a safe space to talk is reason enough to pick up the phone.
Whether you’re a first time caller or someone who has called us before, calling a crisis line can be very intimidating. We want to make the experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible.
Callers can rest assured that all calls to The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands are free and completely confidential. We do not have caller ID, we cannot trace your call, and we respect your right to make your own decisions regarding your life. You can truly share anything with us.
After you’ve dialed our number, a Samaritan volunteer will answer the phone by saying, “Cape Samaritans. How can I help you?” And with that simple phrase out of the way, your call has begun.
Some callers are very shy when they first call, while others feel fairly comfortable diving right in. You can choose to share as much or as little as you like with the volunteer. There is no right or wrong way; there’s only what feels best for you.
You do not need to share your name or where you’re from when you call. Sometimes a volunteer might ask, “What may I call you?” but you don’t have to answer or you can use a different name, if you prefer. And remember, our center does not have caller ID and we cannot trace your call. You are safe to talk with us about anything.
Many first-time callers in particular will say they’re not sure where they should start. Often there are so many details, emotions, and circumstances to describe that it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to say. If our volunteer hears you struggling to determine where to begin, they may prompt you to share why you called that particular day. Sometimes starting from “today” is easier than starting from the beginning.
Some callers worry what a volunteer might think of them for sharing the things they do; other callers worry they have to “prove” they are in pain or crisis. Please rest assured that our volunteers practice non-judgmental active listening. They will not judge your emotions or experiences. Instead they will trust and value your life experience.
Calls vary in length – sometimes a caller only needs to speak for a few minutes, other callers need a bit longer. We do not place time limits on our phone calls. But there may be times during your call that the volunteer will need to check one of the other phone lines if it rings. If that happens, the volunteer will let you know they want to listen more and they’ll be back in a moment.
Your phone call to our crisis lines will be different than most phone calls. You will be doing almost all of the talking. During your call, the volunteer might ask a few questions to encourage you to share more. But their primary role will be to listen to whatever you want to share.
Volunteers cannot offer solutions or opinions, or share personal details about their life. Sometimes this can be confusing to a caller who might be curious about the person who is listening to them. But how a volunteer might solve a problem, what a volunteer might think of something, or the volunteer’s life story has no bearing on what will work best for a caller. So our volunteers have been extensively trained to listen, and to hopefully lighten some of the burden you are feeling.
Unfortunately there are some times when we are receiving a lot of phone calls and do not have enough volunteers on duty. If this happens, the volunteer may ask if you would be comfortable calling back in a little bit. Volunteers never ask callers to do this lightly, particularly because we know how difficult it is to pick up the phone to call us in the first place. If this happens, please trust the volunteers do very much want to listen to you and genuinely hope you will call back.
We encourage you to call our crisis lines as often as you need. The next time you call, it’s probable that you’ll speak with a different volunteer. This may feel disappointing at first, particularly if you’ve already explained your situation to another volunteer. But please remember all of our volunteers are there to help. Again, don’t feel as if you have to share the entire story for the volunteer to understand your need to call.
Samaritan volunteers are here to listen every day of the year, including holidays. Volunteers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. weekdays and weekends. Although we strive to have overnight coverage too, sometimes it’s not always possible. If we do not have a volunteer on duty at night, callers receive a message asking them to call the Boston Samaritans hotline.
Remember, you do not need to be suicidal to call our phone lines. Everyone needs a little extra support from time to time. We’re here to give you that support.
The time immediately following discharge from a medical or behavioral setting after a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis can be very difficult. Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands understands this and wants to support individuals during this transition time by providing one-on-one emotional support and coaching through our new pilot program called A Caring Connection. We believe these follow-up contacts can be extremely helpful during the period of time between discharge and an individual’s engagement in a community-based aftercare plan.
The creation and implementation of A Caring Connection is part of a collaborative grant designed to bring a national initiative aptly named Zero Suicide to Cape Cod and the Islands. While this innovative program is initially being offered to individuals discharged from a Department of Mental Health facility, we anticipate that the program will expand to include other health care and medical facilities on Cape Cod and the Islands with the ultimate goal of creating a program that can be replicated statewide.
For more information about A Caring Connection, please contact our office at 508-548-7999.
Funding for this program
generously provided by