Dec 5, 2022 - Health

False holiday suicide myth is driven by media, analysis says

 A sign for an emergency phone is seen on a span of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The perception that the suicide rate rises with the holiday season is a myth driven by false media narratives, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) said in an analysis released Monday.

Why it matters: Allowing people to think that suicide is more likely this time of year can have a contagious effect on people who are contemplating taking their lives.

What they found: While the holiday blues, seasonal affective disorder and other factors can make this a difficult time of year, the average number of U.S. suicide deaths per day last January and December put those two months among the lowest of the 12 months. (August had the highest, according to CDC data).

  • Just over half of the news stories that the APPC analyzed from the 2021-2022 holiday season that discussed holidays and suicide supported the false myth.
  • More coverage has supported the false connection than debunked it since the AAPC began tracking coverage of the subject in 1999-2000.

Yes, but: Provisional CDC data show that the number of suicides increased in 2021, following declines in 2019 and 2020. And the pandemic exacerbated levels of anxiety and depression, particularly among young people.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 — or you can text message or call 988.

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