Suicides Increase at Christmas Time
© Depositphotos.com/Pakhnyushchyy

Suicides increase at Christmas time/during the holidays.

Don’t believe that!

In the United States, nearly 30,000 people die by suicide every year. Worldwide, suicides are more common than deaths by homicide, accidents and war combined.

A widely-held belief in the U.S. is that the people are more likely to take their own life during the Christmas season. It does seem very plausible… wouldn’t all the happiness and good cheer this time of year just magnify one’s opposite feelings?

In truth, the suicide rate does not increase in late December, it actually goes down. During this time we are typically surrounded by family and friends, providing emotional support and companionship. The imminent start of a new year may also provide hope that things will change. The highest rate is actually during the springtime, for reasons that are still unclear.

A 35-year U.S. study showed no increase in suicides three days before through three days after Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. A 1996 Pennsylvania study found that December and November had the lowest suicide rates. An Irish study from the 1990s also found no connection between the holidays and suicide. A 30-year analysis in Hungary, from 1970 to 2000, showed that suicides peaked in summer and declined in winter.

The media may be mostly to blame for this fallacy. One research study showed that two-thirds of newspaper stories about depression from November 1999 to January 2000 made a connection between suicides and the holiday season.

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