The Winter And Holidays Suicide Myth

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

You may have already seen the warnings in social media posts, blogs, or articles online. Or maybe you associate the holidays or winter with suicide from watching classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or some other sad or depressing holiday film. There is so much in our media that tells us or has tried to get this idea to sink in for some reason.

The idea that suicide rates increase during the winter and holiday season due to the “holiday blues” and the cold/dark winter months is, in fact, a myth. I’ve read through quite a few articles that have been targeted for spreading this lie throughout the past few years around this time frame. I think it is important for people to understand that this is detrimental to suicide awareness and that we need to be vigilant about what we read and share with others.

Research For Yourself

Contrary to public and popular opinion, suicide rates are lower during the holidays and winter months. It’s very alarming to see the perpetuation of this myth in both the news and social media still. Before sharing anything that looks like it’s meant to spread awareness, especially on suicide, do your own research first.

It isn’t difficult to do and the information is readily available. Type in the phrase “holiday suicides” on a Google search and a plethora of educational and credible sources appear.

Calling it a myth also does not imply that the holiday blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are not real or should not be taken seriously. It’s also important to separate the two but it seems a lot of people still think of or use them interchangeably.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

The holiday blues is not a clinical disorder and it strictly occurs during holidays. For example, if someone has a sad memory attached to a holiday it might cause them to become depressed during that holiday. SAD is biological rather than situational and is a form of depression that usually occurs during the short winter season.

If these are not addressed and taken care of they can worsen and develop into severe mental health disorders. It’s important to understand though that these are not scientifically connected to suicide. Spreading that kind of misinformation around can cause more harm than you may realize.

Why do suicides spike in the spring/summer?

Suicides have shown to go up after holidays are over and spike during the spring and summer months. Experts and researchers still aren’t able to understand why exactly this happens every year. Here are just a couple of theories:

Sunlight Exposure – This helps to give individuals serotonin, which is also referred to as the happy chemical. Serotonin however has also been linked to impulsivity. So, basically, the more sunlight a person has who is already experiencing suicidal thoughts, the more likely they are to make the impulsive decision and go through with those thoughts.

Allergies – Studies have shown a possible link between allergic reactions and depression, anxiety, hostility/aggression, and sleep disturbance (all suicide risk factors). It’s also suggested that allergy medications can exacerbate these as well and could be causing or triggering suicide.

4 other Common Suicide Myths:

1. “If they talk about it, they won’t do it.”

This is a warning sign!

People often make the mistake of dismissing others as attention seekers or by not taking their words seriously thinking that the person is simply having a bad day and that they will be fine tomorrow. It’s never wrong to ask, “how are you feeling?” to someone you care about.

2. “If they attempted suicide before, they won’t do it again.”

This is a risk factor!

Many people believe that a person who has previously attempted suicide is either less likely to or won’t ever do it again. This, however, is a predictor of future attempts.

3. “The word ‘suicide’ triggers suicidal behavior.”

There is no evidence to support this.

Suicide is a highly taboo and sensitive subject but avoiding it will not make it go away. Talking about it opens communications and encourages individuals to speak up about any feelings or thoughts they may be having.

4. “If a person is suicidal, there’s nothing anyone can do to help them.”

There is always hope!

Most people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts are unsure about the decision of whether to live or die. This is useful for others to know so they can talk someone out of it temporarily. While this is temporary, it helps to ensure the individual receives further care and treatment.

Talk to Someone Today

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7 support)
Call 1-800-273-8255
TTY users dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255

Veterans Crisis Line (24/7 support)
Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
Text 838255
or Chat online

Crisis Text Line (24/7 support)
Text HOME to 741741

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