The idea that the suicide rate increases during the winter months and peaks during the holiday season is a widespread myth that persists to be presented in news articles. Considering the association between depression and the colder and darker months of the year, those theories may intuitively make sense, but suicide rates are actually lower in the winter months.
For many people, the end of the year forms stressful and difficult times. Due to this and things like winter melancholy and the mood-pressing effects of less sunlight, indeed, depression may rise during the holiday season. Even people otherwise free of lasting low moods may be affected and suffer from seasonal affective disorder, that is, experiencing depressive symptoms occurring at a certain time of the year, most commonly in winter. Nevertheless, data shows that the suicide rate is lowest in the winter months and highest in the late spring and early summer months.
What may add to holiday-season low moods are the often unrealistic and romanticised views of the Christmas season being promoted by advertisements and the media, but also by surrounding people. Thus, people may have unreasonably high expectations of the holiday season, awaiting wonderful times. This can lead to disappointment or, even worse, feeling bad for not being happier and not meeting such idealistic expectations. Accordingly, they might experience sadness and feelings of shame.
Holiday Suicide Myth Persists
There is no clear consensus among professionals on why the suicide rate peaks in the late spring and early summer months. Together with the intuitive but wrong connection drawn from increased depression or seasonal affective disorder to increased suicide rate, this also adds to the holiday suicide myth being kept alive.
Spreading the holiday suicide myth, even if due to simply not knowing better, may be harmful. Wrongfully giving suicidal people the impression that the suicide rate is higher during the holiday season may push them in a bad direction. It is thus of interest to show these statements to be false and declare them as the myths they are. Journalists writing on the topic are appealed to use trustworthy sources and not promote false information on the topic.
Coping with End-of-Year Stress
In order to cope with the mental challenges that may come with the holiday season, it helps to have more reasonable expectations for the holidays. Although the holiday times, especially christmas and family gatherings, can be very beautiful, they should not be idealized. While there are many other measures that can allow better coping with end-of-year stress, not always is such well-intentioned advice enough.
Seeking Professional Help
For suicidal people, it is important to get professional help. Especially when feeling more depressed as might be the case during the holiday season, one should not avoid but seek the needed help, even if feelings may suggest otherwise. For depressed people that have not yet been receiving treatment, the holiday season presents a good opportunity to do so.
Paracelsus Recovery is the world’s most exclusive and discrete treatment center. We offer specifically tailored treatment programs of the highest quality to optimally suit the needs of our clients and guarantee their best treatment. If you happen to feel the need for help, there is no use in denying this need or feeling ashamed for seeking professional help. Getting help is the right thing to do — do not hesitate to contact us.