In recent years a myth has circulated concerning the high suicide rates around the holiday time. Some believe this is linked to being stressed around family members, but I’ve come to say data does not reflect that belief. 

Suicidal attempts and fatalities spike in September. There is speculation for this, but no known reasoning. However, the rate of suicides seems to depreciate following the end of the year with the lowest suicide percentage rate in December, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

This is primarily around the time of frequent family gatherings. 

With this data, we can infer that being around family and friends can lower one’s suicidal ideation. Another component could be that suicidal thoughts are pushed aside due to anxieties of making the holidays harder for others or due to the stress of holiday preparations.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner performed a study in 2006 that proved people were generally happy during the holidays. The concerns that participants referred to in this study were hosting, feelings of forced commercialized spending, weather and travel. These are in no way reflective of tensions in the family.

In fact, people in the United States report feelings of love, happiness and high spirits during the holiday time. According to Rosner, the most important aspects of the holidays are the opportunities to connect or reconnect with friends and family. There are many ways one can connect with their friends and family during this time, ways can include: 

  • Writing letters or sending holiday cards

  • Dinners/Potlucks 

  • FaceTime/Zoom/Skype Calls 

  • Multiplayer Online Games

  • Host a watch party through scener.com  

  • Attend live recordings with family and friends

This is not to say mental health would not be affected in the winter times. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that normally occurs during the late fall to the end of winter months. Some symptoms of SAD include: feeling depressed/hopeless most of the day, low energy, problems with sleeping, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide. 

Suicide is not something we can say only happens in September. Sadly, the CDC reported that statistically, every 11 minutes someone in America is successful in taking their own life. Every 31 seconds someone attempts to take their life. 

It is not something that should be ignored, but we do need to understand that holidays do not increase the rates of suicide. Myths as dangerous as this one can make it seem that the holidays are the time to be depressed. 

This myth can play into the idea of Thanksgiving and Christmas commercializing. Those who struggle with SAD could believe spending money in this time will make them happy. People 

believe that these are joyous holidays, so getting the turkey, eggnog, decorations and presents may give someone false hope for mental attacks they are facing.

While saying this is a time for increased suicides, without the data to conclude it, it is to undermine the truth that the holidays could help someone who is dealing with suicidal thoughts. 

It is not uncommon for one to struggle with depression during the holidays. Data does conclude that suicide attempts are lower in December, but suicidal thoughts may never find rest in the human mind. 

If you or someone you know are dealing with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone you trust. Do not do something irreversible. This world needs you. 

 

National Suicidal Hotline: (800) 273-8255

Student Counseling Center (hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m): (501) 450-3138

UCA PD: (501) 450-3111

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