Suicide rates over the holidays: Myths and reality

Elisabeth Kissling
Published: December 13 2012 | 8:29 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:18 am in
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Most people have heard that suicide rates are highest over the holiday season- but is that really true? The fact is, this is a persistent myth. The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000. A recent analysis found that 50% of articles written during the 20092010 holiday season perpetuated the myth. Actually the holiday season has the lowest suicide rate of any time of year, not the highest. The highest suicide rates actually occur during the spring and summer.

Suicide is a major public health problem that occurs throughout the year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans.

Where does this myth come from? We really aren't sure. But I appreciate media outlets who report accurate information about suicide rates over the holidays.

The holidays are a stressful time for a lot of people. There is pressure to do more and give more. People tend to eat and drink more and sleep less. This is also during a time when Iowans are adjusting to less daylight. Although many people feel tired and stressed out during the holidays, this is often balanced with increased emotional support and feelings of connectedness from friends and family.

It would be wonderful if that "holiday feeling" continued throughout the year. What if we connected with friends and family during the spring and summer months as well?

If you or someone you know is dealing with seasonal depression or having thoughts of suicide, Foundation 2 can help. Please call our 24-hour crisis hotline at (319) 362-2174 or 1800-332-4224. You can also reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1877-273-TALK (8255).

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Is there other feedback and/or ideas you want to share with us? Tell us here.

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