Blog | Friday, December 7, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Suicides actually slow during the holidays, but media preserves the myth

Suicide rates slow around the holidays, not increase, but media reports continue to promote the myth that more people do kill themselves this time of year.

Based on official suicide deaths in the U.S., the months of November, December, and January typically have the lowest daily rates of suicide in the year, reports the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Media reports that link suicide and the holidays had been falling but are back to 1999 levels, a researcher noted. Annenberg's researcher found more than 60 stories that ran during that holiday period saying that suicides spike over the holidays, for 77% of the stories that talked about suicide potentially being related to the holidays. That percentage had fallen and is not back at 76% this year.

"The return of the holiday-suicide connection may be related to the fact that the adult (ages 25+) suicide rate has increased in recent years in step with the great recession," noted the researcher. "With more people affected by suicide, news stories about suicide may be more common over the holidays, bringing the myth back to our attention."

Suicides are actually higher in the spring and summer, the researcher noted.