The Holiday Suicide Myth Continues

Dan Romer at Annenberg School for Communication ASC UPenn

Year after year, the suicide rate is at its lowest in the United States during the holiday season, but nearly three-quarters of U.S. newspaper stories linking suicide and the holidays during the 2013-2014 season incorrectly said the opposite, according to a new analysis.

In the 2013 holiday season, most newspaper stories mentioning suicide and the holidays perpetuated the myth that the holiday season has an increase in suicides, the analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School found.

The study found 70 percent of the stories connecting suicide with the holidays incorrectly upheld the myth, consistent with the prior year, when 71 percent did. But the number of stories connecting the holidays and suicide – supporting or debunking the myth – was much lower than in 2012-2013. Forty-seven stories in U.S. newspapers made the connection from mid-November 2013 through January 2014, down from 62 in the same period a year earlier.

“Fewer stories explicitly drew a link between suicide and the holidays, so that could be a sign that people recognize there is no connection,” said Daniel Romer, Ph.D., associate director of the APPC.

You can read the full press release here.