Okay, ‘fess up — how many of you Americans thought that suicides spiked in December because of the damn holiday crap? I sure did. Turns out that suicides occur more or less on an even keel throughout the year at 105 a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that in 2010 the month with the fewest suicides was December. Suicides were low in November and December during a 10 year study recently published by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center.
The general public tends to think that suicides spike during the winter holidays because of suicide attempts seen in movies and television, most notably It’s A Wonderful Life — and then all of the parodies of It’s a Wonderful Life.
People who are on the edge may seriously think about committing suicide over the holidays because of this myth. Hey, I know I thought about it. It’s December — I have major depression — I’m almost obliged to consider suicide. It’s my annual holiday tradition. As soon as that first bit of Christmasy merchandise hits my local store, I’m looking at razor blades. By the tenth time I hear “Holly Jolly Christmas” I’m looking at suspension bridges.
But just in case you are depressed and wondering if it’s normal to commit suicide over the holidays, it’s not. This December, there have been two notable suicides (NFL star Jovan Belcher and victim of the Royal phone-prank nurse Jacintha Saldanha) but this is unusual.
And it turns out Snopes.com busted this myth back in 2008 but somehow I missed it until today. Man, that’s depressing.