Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Post-holiday blues a factor behind suicides: officials

WARNING Health officials said the suicide rate has a tendency to rise in March, or after the Lunar New Year holiday, and continue climbing until November

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Health officials yesterday advised the public to look out for friends and relatives who may be prone to post-holiday blues.

Statistics released by the health department's Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center showed that the nation's suicide rate has a tendency to rise after the Lunar New Year holiday, with the figure starting to climb at the beginning of March every year and continuing until around November.

In the midst of the holiday festivities, people who live alone or those who have experienced the loss of a loved one may fall prey or deeper into depression, said Lee Ming-been (李明濱), director of the center.

“People who have lost close family members such as their children, husbands or wives may miss them even more during the holiday season,” he said. “They may become more depressed [than usual], and even try to commit suicide or hurt themselves if they cannot find a way out of their depression.”

Other stress factors such as wives who must face their in-laws, or people who have lost their job and found cash in short supply may also contribute to rising suicide rates, he said.

Those who neglect taking medication prescribed for their condition may suffer from recurring symptoms such as anxiety, depression or sleep deprivation, he said.

The center advises the public to go outdoors and call up or visit relatives to chat and relieve the stress from the holidaymaking. Talking to others is also a way to channel negative emotions and provides a way for others to intervene in case the thought of suicide arises.

The center advises those with friends or family who have come to them for help to listen to them and, in severe cases, refer them to a doctor.

Help is also available by dialing the center's 24-hour toll-free number 0800-788-995.

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