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Holiday Suicide Increase: Myth Busted

By HERWriter
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Cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis. Married couples don’t have sex. You should poop at least once every day. These are all health myths that some people might still believe. Here is another: the suicide rate increases during the holidays. This is generally proven to be false, though it likely depends on the location and year.

A blog on Psychology Today by a public health social worker said that the media has been at fault in the past for promoting the myth that suicides increase during the holidays when it’s not true. However, this has apparently improved since 2006-2007, according to a media coverage study that the blog talks about.

I don’t think this is to say that no suicides happen during the holidays, because they surely and unfortunately do. However, there is no apparent increase as compared to other months.

One newspaper, USA Today, is following the new, more accurate media coverage of suicide. One article talks about “why the holiday suicide myth persists.” It leads with the possibility that “It’s A Wonderful Life” started the whole myth. I personally find this hard to believe, but it might have something to do with the myth starting, since the movie focuses on the main character’s consideration of suicide during the holidays.

Suicides show an increase generally in the spring and may decrease in the winter, according to the article. Although Psychology Today’s blog said media reports generally were more accurate, the USA Today article stated that in 2007 and 2008, at least 4 in 10 stories “still linked suicide and the holidays.” This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, especially if newspapers are correctly reporting that the link is wrong (when it is).

The article also talks about how the myth might persist due to seasonal affective disorder most commonly occurring during the winter months. However, it also states that most people who commit suicide have been suffering with depression awhile and aren’t suffering temporarily, as people with SAD are.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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