More Ho Ho Ho Than Sorrow?

Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D. is a licensed Psychologist in the state of Ohio (License #6083). She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from ...Read More

Did you know that the number of individuals committing suicide actually decreases during the Christmas season across the world? Research suggests that suicide rates for all individuals, regardless of age, ethnicity, marital status, or other factors, decreases by up to 40% prior to, during and immediately after Christmas. This dip in suicides seems to hold steady through New Year’s Day.

It is not entirely clear why suicide rates drop during the holidays, but experts point to several factors which may be protective:

  1. having friends or family around can decrease a sense of isolation, and decrease opportunities to engage in self-harm behavior
  2. people often receive more social and material (e.g., food, gifts, financial assistance) support from friends or others (e.g., church/synagogue communities, etc) in their community during this season

  3. an increased likelihood of being altruistic and focused on others during this season can boost mood and self-esteem, and decrease suicidal thoughts and feelings

  4. holiday rituals can add a sense of meaning, belongingness and hopefulness which can decrease suicidality. In addition, rituals can evoke positive memories, which can also boost mood.

Even though the above statistic challenges the popularly held myth that the holidays cause a spike in suicides, this time still may be difficult for some people. Holidays may trigger stress, create financial upheaval, reignite (or start) family conflicts, or trigger a sense of loss and loneliness. We know that any one or all of these factors can be overwhelming, and cause a worsening in mental health and/or mood. For more information on how to handle stress, click here:

Or, visit our online self-help book for more tips, by clicking here:

For more information about how to cope with feeling suicidal, please click here:

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