Suicide During the Holidays . . . Not So Much! By Howard Rosenthal, EdD on 12/12/10 - 12:19 AM

We've all heard it on a local or national television or radio station, "And when we return after the weather, we'll examine the tremendous increase in suicide during the winter holiday season."

Well that's great, except for one small thing: It doesn't exist. In fact, the direct opposite is true.  The suicide rate generally hits a peak during April and May.   The National Center for Health Statistics placed November and December as the months with the lowest daily rates of suicide.

All major holidays with the possible -- notice I said possible -- exception of New Years have lower suicide rates than other days of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas posting extremely low numbers.  Now you will invariably think I am wrong because on Christmas Day some poor soul will take his life and the media will showcase the suicide on the front page of the newspaper. Chances are you will also see it as the top feature story on the local five o'clock news. Keep in mind, however, that if this tragedy occurred on any day that wasn't on a holiday the story would appear on page 54 of the paper next to the classified ad for a Basset Hound in search of a home . . . if the story appeared at all.

The adept therapist will conduct suicide assessments everyday of the year.  Key clinical hint: If you wait until you hear Elvis singing Blue Christmas to start asking client's if they feel suicidal, then you've endangered the lives of your clients for approximately the first 340 days of the year.

File under: The Art of Psychotherapy, Musings and Reflections