Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Holiday Suicide a Myth; Research Finds May Peak Time

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 23, 2009 | Go to article overview

Holiday Suicide a Myth; Research Finds May Peak Time


Byline: Karen Goldberg Goff, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Perhaps George Bailey is to blame. The lead character in Frank Capra's It's Wonderful Life stares at that bridge on Christmas Eve, thinking about committing suicide and perhaps sparking the conventional wisdom that the suicide rate rises around Christmastime.

That's been the thinking in the 60-plus years since that movie was released, giving rise to a myth that is almost as storied as Santa Claus, one researcher says.

It is totally a myth, says Dan Romer, research director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. December is actually a low point for suicides.

Mr. Romer has been tracking media reports of the December suicide myth in America for more than 10 years. He started at the turn of the millennium, when there was an uptick in the number of people who thought the world would end when the calendar hit 2000.

At that time, he found just 23 percent of news reports debunked the suicide myth. By 2006, 91 percent of stories were mentioning that the believed increase was not true. By last holiday season, however, Mr. Romer found that the number of reports debunking the myth was down to 62 percent, meaning more than one-third of stories were still reporting that suicides increase over the holidays.

The peak time for suicides is May, says Paula Clayton, a psychiatrist and medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 33,000 Americans commit suicide each year.

Depression may be higher in the winter, Dr. Clayton says, but winter depression goes away when spring comes.

Dr. Clayton points out that more than 90 percent of the people who attempt suicide are severely depressed, a much more serious diagnosis than for someone who is suffering from the holiday blues.

For people with serious mental illness, the mood does not lighten in May.

The myth of the spike in suicide rates in December might be intensified by the emotionally trying times that can come with the holidays, Dr. Clayton says. There is the stress of being around extended family, of trying to create a picture-perfect holiday, of mourning loved ones who have died and frustration over how to pay the extra bills that come with the holidays.

Researchers at Indiana University last year looked at holiday-related medical myths.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Holiday Suicide a Myth; Research Finds May Peak Time
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.