MELROSE PARK, Ill. - The holidays can be a very lonely time for those with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. As a result, the hospital Emergency Department sees an increase in visits from people who have engaged in potentially self-destructive or depressive behavior.
“For those who have no support system, no friends, family, loved ones or even co-workers, the holidays can prove very deadly,” said Mark DeSilva, MD, medical director, Emergency Department, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. “Everywhere, there are signs of gatherings, gift exchanges, happiness and love. If you are not experiencing what the rest of the world is enjoying, it is very bitter."
DeSilva has worked in Gottlieb’s Emergency Department for more than a dozen years. “The holidays bring out desperate behavior in unstable individuals and they frequently end up in the ED as a medical emergency."
Gottlieb Memorial Hospital’s full-service Emergency Department serves as a Level II Trauma Center, meaning specialists are on call 24/7 to handle critical cases. All Gottlieb physicians are board certified in Emergency Medicine. In addition, all staff nurses are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and most are certified in Advanced Pediatric Life Support.
Gottlieb’s physicians and nurses are responsible for training and educating local emergency medical technicians and paramedics for Bensenville, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park, Melrose Park, River Grove and Leyden Township.
Often there are signs that a person may be feeling overwhelmed. And there are opportunities to intervene.
Here are DeSilva’s five tips to identify individuals who may be vulnerable during the holidays:
If you see signs of extreme behavior in a friend, family member or acquaintance, act immediately. “Talk to the individual about the behavior that you are seeing and offer to help,” DeSilva said. “There are social services, community groups, churches and other programs that can intervene."
The downturn in the economy also has contributed to rise in depression and engagement in risky behavior. “Loss of a job or the unavailability of extra money for presents for loved ones can lead to low self-esteem and contribute to the person’s making poor choices,” DeSilva said.
“By recognizing when a person is in trouble, and speaking out, you may not only save them a trip to the ED but also save a life,” he said.