Question

Healthy Holidays

Does the number of suicides increase during the holidays?

A Answers (3)

  • The idea that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season is a long perpetuated myth. The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics reports that the suicide rate is actually the lowest in December. The suicide rate peaks in the spring and the fall. This pattern has not changed in recent years. The holiday suicide myth supports misinformation about suicide that might ultimately hamper prevention efforts. Suicide remains a major public health problem, one that occurs throughout the year. It is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans.
  • ADeborah Serani, PsyD, Psychology, answered
    The idea that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season is a long perpetuated myth. In fact, The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000 and has noted that 40% of articles written during the holiday season perpetuates the holiday suicide myth. While it's true that depression can increase during winter months, research shows that suicide rates are, in fact, the lowest in December. The peak time for death by suicide is May and June according to the American Association of Suicidology.

  • ALeigh Vinocur, MD, Emergency Medicine, answered
    No, this is just a common a myth. It is true that for some people, all this holiday cheer  magnifies feelings of loneliness because of loss of loved ones or feelings of stress from too-high expectations that inevitability lead to disappointments. There are also those people who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in which decreased sunlight in winter months triggers chemicals in the brain to cause depression.  And of course there are even those who joke that spending too much time with their families during the holidays makes them feel suicidal. However, according to the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics suicide rates don’t spike in the winter months; in fact, they actually drop slightly. There is some speculation that being with friends and family during this time of the year acts as a support system.
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