What’s behind the holiday-suicide myth?

What's behind the holiday-suicide myth

The seasonal nature of the suicide rate in the U.S.

Seasonal suicide rates are reversed in Australia

How the media cover the holiday-suicide myth

  • A Houston Chronicle story on Dec. 9, 2022, “Suicides at border prompt effort to boost mental health aid,” concerns bipartisan efforts by U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R., San Antonio) and other legislators to provide more mental health resources to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after a number of agent suicides. The story paraphrases Gonzales as saying that “it’s especially important for lawmakers to help agents this month since suicides usually spike around the holidays.”
    • (While it is important to provide mental health resources to these officers, the need is also great at other times of the year.)

    • The Chicago Daily Herald, in a story on “How to combat holiday blues,” which ran on Dec. 24, 2022, notes: “While December sees the lowest suicide rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the holidays often bring stressors that can trigger depression, anxiety or loneliness.”
    • In a Nov. 21, 2022, story on a holiday-stress mental health webinar hosted by a Los Angeles County supervisor, a writer for The (Santa Clarita, Calif.) Signal, said, “While suicides have increased since the pandemic, suicides do not increase in rate during the holidays, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, it actually decreases. The CDC has labeled this a myth…”
    • In “Research center warns of holiday suicide myth,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote on Christmas Day 2022 about APPC’s efforts to combat the myth: “More than two decades ago, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania decided to make recommendations to journalists on how to cover suicides. In the course of developing them, researchers there found the widely-reported story that suicides jump around the holidays was actually a myth: suicides are no more common in the holiday season than any other time of year.”

    Why news media should not support the holiday-suicide myth

    Too few know about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

    How this media study is conducted

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