For RI’s Medical Community

Emergency? Determine if everyone is safe. Are there weapons? Are other persons, especially children, in the vicinity? In all life threatening situations, please call RI Emergency 911 directly.


Experts tell us the truly suicidal, of all ages, do not want to die—they just want to end whatever is causing the pain—be it physical, emotional or both.

Experts tell us, the truly suicidal believe:

  • There are no options for ending the pain and therefore no hope.
  • No one cares if they live or die.
  • They are a burden to loved ones and friends.
  • Without options, their life is out of control.The only control they have is over their own death.

The Role of the Medical Community

At The Samaritans, we consider our partnership with Rhode Island’s medical community essential to our efforts in suicide prevention.

From the doctors and nurses who volunteer their time, we have learned much including that many physical problems can present themselves as depression.

  • Are there undiagnosed medical problems causing someone to not feel well?  Issues may include cancer, thyroid conditions, diabetes, urinary tract infections and so much more.
  • Are medications being taken as prescribed?
  • Are there issues with dehydration?
  • Are there known or unknown genetic factors or family history?
  • Are there lifestyle issues impacting on overall health and behavioral health?

Know the Warning Signs

Suicide is considered a missed opportunity in prevention and doctors visits are considered one of the first places a depressed or suicidal person may present himself/herself.  We also know depression and suicide is NOT a one size fits all problem. The challenges of one person may not be the challenges of another. To better understand the breadth of the problem and how to address it, we encourage you to read:

Referrals to Standards of Care/Practice Guidelines

World Health Organization: Preventing Suicide: Primary Health Care Guide (PDF)

A Guide for Medical Providers in the Emergency Department Taking Care of Suicide Attempt Survivors.

Depression and Cancer Patients

Cultural Competency in Health Care

American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines (Adult)

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Pyschiatry Practice Parameters (Child)

See: General Physicians and Health Care Providers

What We Know from Our Callers

When someone calls our Crisis Hotline/Listening Line, we learn more often than not, he or she has not mention depression or other signs of not feeling well to doctors whether primary care or specialists.  Often times, it is the stigma and shame associated with depression. Other times, callers do not understand the connections between their physical and emotional health.

The Role of The Samaritans of RI

If a caller is in immediate crisis for suicide, we will refer to RI Emergency 911.  If they will not call 911, or allow The Samaritans to call 911, we will encourage the caller to visit the nearest acute care hospital for an emergency assessment.  In addition to the emergency room, we will encourage the caller or family member to contact his or her primary care doctor/specialist to ensure vital health information is exchanged.

If a caller is not in crisis, we will encourage the caller to contact his or her primary care or specialist about feelings of depression and any other symptoms  described.

The Samaritans of Rhode Island is not a licensed health care agency and accordingly we do not provide counseling. Our mission is befriending those is need and in providing education and information.

Our volunteers are trained in nonjudgmental listening and can be an important source of support when family, friends and professionals are not available.