For most people, the holidays are a time of joy, togetherness and celebration. But for people contemplating suicide, the holidays can actually be a difficult time, especially for those who have few friends and family of their own to celebrate with.
There may very well be some truth to this line of thinking, but the conclusion — that people are more likely to commit suicide during the holidays — is unquestionably false.
In general, the winter months tend to have the lowest suicide rates, with peak rates typically coming in the spring and fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), December actually has the lowest rate of any month.
Still, many people continue to perpetuate the holiday suicides myth, the media being one of the biggest offenders.
In the year 2000, The Annenberg Public Policy Center began tracking media coverage of suicides during the holidays. Since then, 53 percent of news reports mentioning suicides and the holidays have reinforced the myth, with the number rising as high as 71 percent during the 2012-2013 holiday season.
While it may not be true, the holiday suicides myth can still have dangerous consequences. As the CDC points out, the myth, “supports misinformation about suicide that might ultimately hamper prevention efforts.”
More than 36,000 Americans take their own lives every year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Another 374,000 Americans are treated for self-inflicted injuries each year.
Read more from the CDC.