Remember those in need during the festive season

NSW Health Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Murray Wright said while Christmas and New Year is seen as a time to spend with loved ones, for some people it’s a time of year that can trigger depression and increase the risk of self-harm.

“This time of year, it’s important to remember to look out for those who are vulnerable and may be feeling isolated and lonely,” he said.

“The risk of self-harm and suicide increases in the days following Christmas and also on New Year’s Day. For people with a depressive illness or experiencing severe stress the festive season can be an emotionally difficult time.

“This is often exacerbated for vulnerable people who see others catching up with their families for Christmas and New Year celebrations when they don’t have families or other sources of support.”

Dr Wright said people might consider simply asking others about their holiday period plans, and inviting them along to celebrations as a welcome support.

“Christmas and the New Year period can be a healing time for many people coping with stress in their lives, and many people may benefit from spending more time with family and friends and taking time out for their favourite pastimes and recreational activities.”

“However, the risk of self-harm can increase when people became intoxicated with alcohol and other drugs.

“Alcohol, particularly when under a lot of stress or coping with a depressive illness, can increase the risk of self-harm as it can lead to impulsive and irrational behaviour.

“We often don’t know what personal challenges people are facing, so it’s important – especially at times of greater risk such as the Christmas/New Year season – to look out for those around us and be inclusive to help them through,” Dr Wright said.

People needing assistance can

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