Suicide Rates Rise During Christmas Season - True or False?
Contrary to what many believe, the notion of increased depression during the Christmas season is a myth. Suicide rates actually decrease over the Holidays. Snopes categorizes the opposite assumption as an urban legend. Studies show a decline not only in suicide during the most festive time of the year, but even unintentional self-harm also decreases, such as drug overdoses.
Despite a drop in suicides during the Holidays, our nation's overall suicide rate is up, especially among Caucasian women. Below is information regarding the increasing suicide rate from Treatment Advocacy Center ("TAC").
A new study found that suicide rates are increasing. Researchers found that from 1999 to 2005, the overall suicide rate in the United States rose 0.7 percent. However, among middle-aged white women, the annual increase was 3.9 percent; among middle-aged white men it was 2.7 percent. The report did not explain why there was such an increase among these populations. According to Susan P. Baker, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,
[I]t's not clear what might be causing the rising suicide rates among middle-aged whites. "We need to study the individual people who have committed suicide and see what were their living circumstances. Were they depressed, was this impulsive? A lot more specific information is needed," she said.
For more information on suicide please see our Briefing Paper, SUICIDE: ONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO TREAT SEVERE PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS
Despite the fact that many people find the hustle and bustle of Christmas to be a hassle, according to an Los Angeles Times report dated December 17, 2007, the extra socializing is really good for you. People have a tendancy to get together more during the holidays, celebrate family traditions, and concentrate on others more than themselves. This takes the focus off one's own problems. Children do better in school around the Holidays, maybe to impress Santa. There is less family fighting, perhaps because more guests are around. There is an increased sense of togetherness among co-workers, family, and friends, and people usually connect with significant persons in their lives who live far away, relieving loneliness for some.
Whereas the normal suicide rate in the 1970's was around 34 in a million people during regular days, over Christmas the rate dropped to about 30 in a million. Thanksgiving had the most significant drop - to 26 in a million. Therefore, many people really do experience a heightened sense of good cheer during the Holidays that saves lives. See Snopes' report at this link: http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/suicide.asp
The Christmas season is good for you! Hope your Holidays are fun and blessed.
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Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States