This chart, provided by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, shows the percentage of stories supporting the holiday-suicide myth and those debunking it, from the 1999 to 2000 through to the 2021 to 2022 holiday seasons.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center with the University of Pennsylvania is continuing the fight against the well-reported but misconceived notion that suicide rates skyrocket during the holiday season.
The idea that suicide rates go up during the holidays remains an unfounded myth. While there has been evidence compiled proving that stress-rates rise dramatically during the winter season, there isn’t much proving that suicide attempts and deaths increase in relation to that.
Referred to as the “holiday-suicide myth”, the belief that the holiday season increases one’s willingness to take their own life has largely been spread by word of mouth (primarily through social media) and perpetuated by many news outlets over the past 20 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates increased 4% for males and 2% for females in 2021, a slight increase over the two years prior. Data suggests this increase comes, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports a 35% increase in suicides between 2000 and 2018, making suicide the 12th leading cause of the death in the US. In 2020, there was an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts leading to 45,979 deaths, roughly about one every 11 minutes.
However, those numbers don’t reflect any specific increase in December. According to a suicide prevention article on the CDC website, “CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that the suicide rate is, in fact, the lowest in December. The rate peaks in the spring and the fall. This pattern has not changed in recent years.”
The article goes on to say that the myth is simply supported by a spread of misinformation that may ultimately impede prevention efforts, a claim that The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s new report supports.
The APPC released a report on Dec. 5 compiling news-media coverage and how it helps perpetuate the holiday-suicide myth. The report finds that, of the 25 stories released that attempt to make a connection between the holiday season and suicide rate increases, 14 stories helped to sustain the myth while only 11 attempted to debunk it.
“Our experience in tracking news stories about suicide over the holidays shows how difficult it is stamp out this myth. In the 23 years of our study, only nine years had higher rates of debunking of the myth and only three of those occurred in the last 10 years.” said Dan Romer, research director of the APPC.
APPC has ties to the Bill Gates Foundation and also owns Factcheck.org. Anything regurgitated by the APPC is liberally biased and politically motivated by the Left.
Agreed. This story is a nothing sandwich. The "data" reported proves nothing at all. None of it is scientifically sound or statistically meaningful.
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