Myth that Suicides Peak during the Holidays Could Cause Harm

December 16, 2022

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


Some media reports contain misinformation about holiday suicides, according to a recent analysis. Researchers looked at monthly national suicide numbers in 2021 and found that December’s were lower than any other month. However, a review of news articles found 56% reported the opposite—that suicides peak in December. Looking at previous years, the analysis showed more articles have typically spread the myth than challenged it since 1999. The misconception that suicides go up during the holidays can increase risk among people who are struggling, said Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, which carried out the analysis. Romer said his team’s aim was to “alert journalists and the public about this myth in the hopes that it will discourage repetition of this idea, since it serves no useful purpose, and may even have harmful effects if it produces contagion among those who might be in crisis and considering suicide over this period.”

Spark Extra! Check out the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.