According to officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the idea that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season is a "long-perpetuated myth."
The CDC's National Center for Health and Statistics reports that the suicide rate is the lowest in December. Local psychologist Dr. Richard Patterson, agrees with the CDC and shared his perspective on the issue with ABC-7. "I think what happens is when people have those kids of thoughts they will push them away because of the time of the year," Patterson said, adding that people may decide against taking their own life because of the burden it would leave on their family.
Although suicide rates are down during the holiday season Patterson said depression increases. "People are more inclined to get down," Patterson said, "There is a phrase, 'the holiday blues,' and it can escalate to serious depression."
Patterson told ABC-7 there are two main factors, that lead to depression during the holiday season: memories of a painful past and stress or pressure.
"For some people. Christmas brings bad memories," Patterson said. He added that some people may be reminded of an abusive past, alcoholism or poverty. "There is so much pressure and stress to buy and give that you can't win. It gets people down and they feel like they are not doing enough."
Suicide remains a major public health problem, one that occurs throughout the year, according to CDC officials.
Each day in Texas there are more than 6 suicide deaths and nearly 30 hospitalizations for attempted suicide, according to the CDC. CDC officials state that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for Texas and the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24.
"People are not alone," Patterson said. "That's one thing that is absolutely crushing during this time of the year. This time of the year it is entirely normal to grieve a little bit or to feel a little sad."
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans. Each year, more than 36,000 people take their own lives and more that 374,000 are treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries.
"If those thoughts are pulling you down and you are having difficulty functioning or getting out of bed or you have thoughts about killing yourself you should reach out for some help," Patterson said.
The CDC works to prevent suicidal behavior before it initially occurs. Some of CDC's activities include:
- Monitoring suicidal behavior
- Conducting research to identify the factors that put people at risk for suicide
- Conducting research to identify the factors that protect people from suicide
- Developing and evaluating prevention programs
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)