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Holiday Suicide Myth

A higher rate of suicide during the holidays is a media myth.

The idea that more people kill themselves around the winter holidays is a myth that the media have little interest in correcting, according to a study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. In an analysis of newspaper articles about suicide between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1999, researchers found nearly half of them associated suicide with the winter holidays, despite receiving press releases warning journalists that such associations don’t seem to be warranted. Suicides drop during the winter months, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and they usually peak during the spring months. Researchers caution that the flurry of articles on holiday suicides could actually inspire “copycat” suicides. Exposure to suicide methods may encourage vulnerable individuals to imitate them, the study warns.