During the holiday season, don’t forget to take care of your neighbors!

Dec 15, 2023 | 0 comments

Author’s note: During the holiday season I will write columns on personal issues and resume the series of medical issues in 2024.

By Garnett Stewart

In the coming weeks, it’s very important to keep an eye on your neighbors. It’s a different type of Alert Neighborhood Watch!

Why do I call it the “Alert Neighborhood Watch”?  It is a separate and maybe more important awareness of those around you. I ask each and every one of my readers to search around their areas and among their neighbors and acquaintances for this major problem. The holidays between November and January are jam-packed with events and festivities for the majority of people. However, many people are triggered into serious depressions and suicidal thoughts during these months. The global mortality rate increases.

It is really a stunning trend that fatalities increase during the holidays, whether their self-inflicted or not. The week of Christmas to New Years has an extremely high mortality toll. Most deaths occur between 02:00 and 05:00.

Please consider your neighbors and engage them in activities and special occasions for their benefit. And for your sake as well. My greatest delight comes from doing something for others. This is my plan and I hope it’s yours as well.

Despite the fact that there are a large number of great people with open hearts, the daily news indicates otherwise. Be that exceptional individual! Concentrate on asking for peace and pleasure. Over 400 years ago, Isaac Newton developed a physics principle. The new agers believe it is new! But no. It is the power of attraction. We think and speak negatively, and chaos follows. But, if we focus on the wonderful things, what we truly desire, they will appear.

You know the little old lady who lives in a modest apartment without family? At this time of year, she is quite vulnerable. She may not have any festive pals and may be alone. Two good lifetime friends have chosen to be alone this time of year. Otherwise, they are full of fun and friends. It’s because his recollections of the holidays are terrible, and not remembering is really lifesaving for them. The fundamental issue here is that they are completely aware of the isolation and their desire for it. Nonetheless, every alarm bell in my head is blaring at full volume!  It doesn’t take much for the decision to be alone to become something lethal!

What about your pals who have experienced a loss this year? Death is not the sole loss. Divorce. Illness. Significant shifts in lifestyle, such as becoming expatriates. War. The end of relationships. The list is extensive. Be sympathetic to people in these predicaments.

All of these factors are strong triggers for this time of year. I am concerned that we will not see these conditions. We become preoccupied with our own activities and fail to notice what is going on around us. I urge you to be on the lookout for anyone who may be separated from loved ones.

Many of you are aware that I live with medical students who are far away from home. I now have two interns who are unable to celebrate with their families. Their 24-hour hospital shifts are a clear hindrance to spending time with loved ones. Of sure, they will receive calls and texts but this is woefully inadequate. I’m trying to create time for them and celebrate our holidays together with them, and I’m keeping an eye out for worsening indications of depression that might turn into something serious. However, they are depressed. They are weary.  Exhaustion paired with separation is a recipe for catastrophe.

A depressing statistic: Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not actually desire to die by suicide.

According to the U.S. CDC, of the projected 12.3 million American adults who considered suicide in 2021, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt and 1.7 million attempted it. In other words, persons who wish to die will not only commit suicide, but also put themselves in risk. Death by police. Death by accident. Death as a result of an automobile accident. Death by auto-pedestrian. And the figures are startling, and this time of year –the holiday season– is a major cause. Alcohol is often a component so please moderate your intake.

Make time to give to others. You will reap the benefits. Your neighbors and friends can benefit because of you. Try to include people in more than just a delicious meal. Create phone checks with solitary folks to remind them that they are not alone and that you are there for them. I have a large WhatsApp phone list and check in with several groups, which sounds like a lot of work. But it is not.

I extend my sincerest hHoliday greetings to each and every one of you, and I hope you will share this joy with at least three more people. Let us create a positive Cuenca and Ecuador.

Garnett Stewart is a permanent resident of Ecuador living in Cuenca. She is a retired Adult Medicine Nurse Practitioner with a specialty in Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery and is the author of several published articles. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in nursing. Her undergraduate university studies focused on biochemistry and biophysics. Please contact her at Ecuador.advice@gmail.com


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