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Walkers in the Snow

Suicide and the Holidays – Myth or Reality?

We all know the number of suicides increases over the Christmas holidays, right? Actually, wrong. The idea that more people kill themselves at Christmastime than at any other time of year is an urban legend.

In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, studies have found that the suicide rate actually declines on Christmas and on the days leading up to it, although one study that they surveyed did suggest that women were at a higher risk for making nonlethal attempts during the holidays.

New Year’s Day is a little more tricky, with some studies showing no significant fluctuation in suicide rates and others recording slightly higher suicide rates on the beginning day of the New Year.

These findings are interesting from a statistical perspective, but not much help when trying to predict the behavior of any given individual. It doesn’t help to know what 90% of the population will do when your loved one is in the other 10%. And we all know people -perhaps even ourselves -who find the holiday season a sad and overwhelming time of year. Even people in the best of mental health feel let down when their own holiday celebrations fail to match the ones depicted in television commercials and movies.

If the holiday season feels impossibly hard this year, remember to reach out to others for comfort. Your friends and family probably want to help you but are just waiting for you to show them how. The Alliance of Hope forum is also open 24/7, even on Christmas day.

Finally, if you become depressed over the holiday season and begin to consider harming yourself or killing yourself, go to the nearest emergency room for help. If you live in the United States, you can also call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).