Holiday Depression Floods Hospitals, Counseling Centers

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Decorations and lights are still shining brightly, but for some the holiday cheer is gone. West Texas physicians say depression calls have spiked leading to more suicide attempts and deaths.

"It's been busy," Dr. Edgar Valle with Midland Memorial Hospital, said. "The number has significantly increased."

Emergency room doctors say the stream of problems around the holidays is constant.

"During the whole season of the Winter, we see people with increased depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol or drug abuse," Dr. Valle said.

Doctors say one of their busiest holidays is just a day away.

"Normally we have a significant increase around New Years, so our patient flow increase significantly this time of the year," Dr. Valle said.

Staff at Midland Memorial say patients at all stages of depression and suicidal tendencies are pouring into their emergency room.

"We are equipped to handle it" Dr. Valle said. "Occasionally we have excessive violence of a patient that is a threat to us, not only to the community, but the personnel in the emergency room. But the Sheriff's Department is always here and the Police Department is here."

"I think the economy is one thing we're looking at, the break up of families and relationships is increasing," Paul Jurek, Ph.D., L.P.C. Family Counselor, said.

But what might surprise you are the ages of these patients, hospitals and counselors are even helping young children who are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

"I see down to 2 and 1/2," Dr. Jurek said. "There, it's the break-up of families. Kids are confused. Toddlers and above, sometimes they blame themselves."

Paul Jurek counsels children and families from across the Basin. His practice is packed with kids battling holiday depression either stemming from divorce or saying good-bye to a mom or dad in the military.

"It's been a lot busier this December than it has in the past," Dr. Jurek said. "The main thing is to listen. Listen to the children. They've got a story to tell you."