Christmas suicides and an increase in depression is a common myth that many people believe. While the actual amount of people who commit suicide decreases up to the point of Christmas, it often increases in fall and spring. According to research by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), it has been determined that the month of December is actually the lowest for suicides. In fact, Annenberg has taken to task the role newspapers, media, and press have in perpetuating the myth and have asked them to stop. Dan Romer, who led the APPC study, discussed the dangers of the increased Christmas suicides myth. When asking the question whether Christmas suicides increase on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, the answer is an emphatic no.
“It is unfortunate that the holiday-suicide myth persists in the press. “Aside from misinforming the public, the sort of reporting misses an opportunity to shed light on the more likely causes of suicide.”
Additionally, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, APPC director at the time of the study, stated that it is imperative that accurate information is disseminated to the public.
“The press has an important role to play in debunking the holiday-suicide myth. It is essential that the public be given accurate information on this important subject.”
The main concern is that if the public isn’t given proper information regarding the holidays, depression, and Christmas suicides, the warning signs for suicide may go unnoticed. Some experts feel that those who are suffering from mental illness or depression may be influenced by reports of increased Christmas suicides. This could result in more people attempting Christmas suicides, simply because there is an increase in reporting, even though the reporting is based on false evidence.
The advancement of social media networks has helped perpetuate the myth of increased holiday suicides. While it is true that some people become disillusioned with the holiday spirit, and the commercialization of the season, many people do not actually commit suicide. While those who are lonely may suffer more loneliness during the season, the research doesn’t show an increase in actual suicides. As you can see, some people across social media networks believe the Christmas-suicides myth.
— Parson Brown (@Bro_Pair) December 24, 2015
Though an increase in Christmas suicides is a myth, that doesn’t mean that those who suffer from depression will sail through the holiday season. Those already diagnosed with a mental illness or clinical depression may find themselves having a difficult time during the holidays. Those who are dealing with depression or feel that they have become unusually sad during the holiday season should speak to their health care provider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a section on suicide prevention that offers help to those who are considering suicide during the holiday months.
— Andrew Harper (@andsharper22) December 24, 2015
— Ann aka Grasshoppah (@Doodisgirl) December 19, 2015
According to the 2015 suicide facts provided by the CDC, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for children and adults of all ages. Suicides are ranked seventh for male deaths and 14th for female deaths. For males, the most common method of suicide involved firearms, while females performed poisoning. Suicidal thoughts are common as an estimated 3.9 percent of Americans admitted to having suicidal thoughts at some point during their life. There are no facts or statistics that show people are at an increased risk of committing suicide during Christmas, Easter, or other holidays. Increased number of suicides during Christmas is a myth.
If you have felt like endangering your life by committing suicide and need help, you may reach out to the National Suicide Prevention lifeline, any time day or night, at 1-800-273-8255.
[Photo Credit/Charisse Van Horn]