Holiday depression? Suicides actually lowest in December

Holiday depression? Suicides actually lowest in December (MGN)

It's a common thought that during the holidays, suicides go up. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control as well as Psychology Today, that just isn't the case.

In fact, national suicide rates are at their lowest in December.

"The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000," the CDC says on its website. "A recent analysis found that 50% of articles written during the 2009–2010 holiday season perpetuated the myth."

The CDC says suicide rates peak during the spring and autumn months and that pattern has not changed recently.

The CDC goes on to say that the myth surrounding an increase in suicides may actually harm suicide prevention efforts. Suicide, the CDC says, is preventable.

"There is a time of year when suicides are more common," says Marcia Valenstein, MD, research scientist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development Service. "But it's not when everyone thinks."

It's not clear why, but it could be due to changing levels of natural light. "It could be that they have more energy to attempt suicide," Dr. Valenstein says.

According to Psychology Today: "There were 38,364 suicides in the US in 2010, making it the 12th leading cause of death -- more people died from suicide than automobile accidents. While fleeting thoughts of suicide are experienced by many, suicide threats often go ignored. Suicide is often associated with depression, which is very treatable. Suicide is not a sign of weakness and it isn't about seeking attention or being selfish, yet these myths continue."

There are many commonly believed myths about suicide, making it misunderstood. You can read about common myths here.

One contributing factor relavant to Utah is that suicides are in fact 70% higher in regions above 2,000 meters in elevation.

Whites, particularly white men, are also the most likely race to commit suicide.

"No one is quite sure why whites are at a higher risk," says Valenstein.. "It might have to do with differences in social support."

If you have thoughts of suicide, please reach out and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit them online suicidepreventionlifeline.org



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