It is a common belief that stress and other challenges associated with the holidays bring an increase in suicides and suicide attempts. But that is not really the case. Scott Perkins, Project Director with the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project at the State Department of Mental Health, says it’s a myth.
“There’s a bit of a myth regarding the holidays and suicide,” said Perkins in an interview with the Missourinet. “It turns out, actually, that December usually has the lowest number of completed suicides of any month in most years.”
The worst time of the year for suicide is actually when the weather is much warmer and the holidays are far off.
“In 2006, actually the national data just was released a few months back, and it does show December being the lowest with late spring and early summer the higher months,” said Perkins.
Why, then, is there a widely held belief that there is a link between suicide and the holidays?
“It could be ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ gets shown every year around the holidays … if that kind of helps perpetuate the myth,” said Perkins.
The fact is there are many opportunities for those who are stressed or depressed to mingle with other people and to talk – and that’s a positive thing.
“That’s definitely a protective factor – having people around and people to talk to,” said Perkins.
Perkins’ advice to anyone who has concerns about an individual being alone is to try to involve that person in activities with others.