AMA Vice President, Dr Choong-Siew Yong, today urged Australians to spare a thought this week for those who will be alone over Christmas.
'This time of year for most people means joyful gatherings with friends and family, but for some it spells only isolation and despair,' Dr Yong said.
'The social circuit, gift-giving and family gatherings around Christmas and the new year can cause depression for those who are socially isolated.
'Even for people with families, bringing together different personalities under the same roof at Christmas time can be challenging and stressful.'
Telephone counselling service, Lifeline, traditionally receives an increase in calls over the Christmas period from people experiencing loneliness, depression, and family problems.
'Last year the service received almost 9,000 calls between the 18th and 26th of December,' Dr Yong said.
'About 50 calls a day were from people specifically at risk of suicide.
'But anyone can help disperse that black cloud for another person, by simply reaching out.'
· Check that friends, neighbours and colleagues won't be alone while others celebrate
· If you know that you and others will be alone, consider holding a 'orphans' Christmas party
· Consider donating to charities that provide food hampers and gifts for those in need
'With some thought, care, and compassion, we can help turn somebody's sad season into a happy Christmas,' Dr Yong said.
Lifeline can be reached from anywhere in Australia by phoning 13 11 14.