Suicide rate decreases during the holidays

By Janelle Mathews

Lumen Editor-in-Chief

In the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve.  Many media reports over the past decade claim that the suicide rate goes up during the holiday season, but this is just not true.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, “the suicide rate is, in fact, the lowest in December” with the rate peaking in “the spring and fall months.”

The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports in relation to suicide during the holiday months, and the center has found that there is no consistency with the media and what they publish on holiday suicide.  In 2006, “91 percent of media stories debunked the myth” of holiday suicide, but “in the 2007 holiday season, the myth was back in half the stories,” explained Kim Painter in USA TODAY.

It is the stress of the holiday season that perpetuates the myth of a rising suicide rate, said Paula Clayton, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in USA TODAY.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, asserts, “the press has an important role to play in debunking the holiday-suicide myth” in USA TODAY.

Suicide is a problem with more than 36,000 people committing suicide each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide is ranked as the 11th leading cause of death among adults and ranks as the third leading cause of death in adolescents according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  People dealing with a suicidal crisis can contact the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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