Suicide rates fell in 2020. The same was true for media coverage of holiday and suicide links.

The percentage of news articles during the holiday season supports or exposes the myth of holiday suicide. Credit: Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania.

While the country was on the verge of a COVID-19 pandemic last holiday season, much of the media did not focus on the possible links between holidays and suicidal tendencies.

This is one inference that may be derived from the latest data collected by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) in its annual analysis of holiday news coverage.suicide Myth, false claim that suicide rates increase on holidays.

In 2020, the suicide rate in the United States fell for the second consecutive year.And in 2020-21 Consecutive holiday seasonThere were not many newspaper articles (less than 20) that linked holidays to suicidal tendencies and uncovered or perpetuated myths. Suicide rates do not increase during the New Year holiday season. In fact, it diminishes.

“Many articles during the pandemic were about increased risk factors for suicide, such as anxiety, social isolation, and unemployment, but few news media articles portrayed the seasonal link to suicide.” Dan Romer, Research Director at APPC, said. ..

Suicide and Holidays-The Myth of Suicide

APPC has been analyzing for 20 years newspaper article It linked holidays to suicide and saw if they perpetuated or uncovered the holiday suicide myth. In the 2020-21 holiday season, only 16 stories refer to the connection, 10 perpetuate the myth (63%) and 6 uncover it (37%)-the lowest since APPC tracked this. In the total number of.

“This is, in a sense, a success story,” Rommer said. “Given our concerns about mental health during a pandemic, we might have seen more stories about suicide, but it wasn’t. Last year’s report on holiday suicide myths told media organizations. I advised not to be careful, to make suicide sensational during a pandemic or to give the false impression that it was more likely than it really is.

Suicide rates fell in 2020.So was media coverage of the link between holidays and suicide.

The number of newspaper articles for the holiday season from 1999 to 2021 in support of the myth that suicide rates increase during the holiday season.Credits: University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center

Decreased suicide rate

Despite the increase in some risk factors associated with suicide, interim data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the number of suicides has declined in 2020. In the United States, between 1999 and 2018, the suicide rate increased by 35%, averaging 1.75% per year, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. However, the CDC reported that suicide rates fell by 2% in 2019 and by 3% in 2020.

December was the last to be ranked in both 2019 and 2020 (12)NS) As usual, during the average daily suicide month. In 2019, there were 11 each in November and January.NS And 10NS Also as is common, the lowest suicide rate. However, in 2020, the next lowest average months were April and May, the first two months of the pandemic blockade in parts of the United States.

“This is especially noteworthy given the blockade,” Romer observed. “People crouched down with their families and experienced stress together. This may have reduced the risk of suicide for the most vulnerable people. One of the possibilities. Risk factor Suicide is a feeling of burden on others. It may also apply to people who are suddenly unemployed. But if many people are on the same ship, you are not a burden. You are like everyone else and are experiencing a crisis. “

Suicide rates fell in 2020.So was media coverage of the link between holidays and suicide.

Average daily suicide rate per month from 1999 to 2020. The months of the holiday season from November to January are displayed with shaded bands. Credits: Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Graphics: Annenberg Public Policy Center.

High anxiety

At the same time, there is no doubt that the pandemic has caused a high level of anxiety, especially for young people.

Studies conducted show that in 2020 and 2021, nearly 38% to 52% of people aged 18-29 are “related to the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.” “I have” reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression. According to the US Census Bureau and the National Institute of Health and Statistics. During Thanksgiving vacation from November 25th to December 7th, 2020, 49% of 18-29 years old reported more anxiety and depression symptoms than other age groups. The national average for all ages during that period was 36.1%. In contrast, the annual average for all ages in 2019 was 10.8%.

Perpetuate or uncover holiday suicide myths

APPC analyzed news coverage of holiday suicide myths over 22 holiday seasons from 1999-2000 to 2020-21. In most years, many newspapers favored myths rather than uncovering them. More stories have endorsed the myth this year, but the overall lack of coverage at this focus may be seen as a positive sign.

Suicide rates fell in 2020.So was media coverage of the link between holidays and suicide.

Monthly average of daily suicide deaths in 2019. Credits: Data: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Table: Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“In 2020, suicides have diminished, and the media did not hype suicides during the holidays,” Rommer said. “People may suffer from seasonal affective disorder or experience what is often referred to as the” holiday blues, “but that doesn’t mean you see an increase in suicide during the holiday season. “

The false relationship between holidays and suicide can be seen in the following story.

  • “Therapists: Isolation, the Stress of Pandemic Damage,” said a Tribune Democrat in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, said one therapist said, “Holidays bring good and bad things. It’s the time to really trigger this year. Suicide rates. It will go up. ” This time of year. The suicide rate has already doubled. People again feel helpless and hopeless. They also feel unsupported. (December 23, 2020)
  • The article on the first page about the fatal increase in overdose in the post-gazette in Pittsburgh, PA states: “During the pandemic, suicide rates were of particular concern, but the annual number of Allegheny County has not shown an increase,” he added. (December 20, 2020)

One story that uncovers myths:

  • South Bend (Indiana) Tribune Front Page Talk “A pandemic imposes a mental sacrifice,” a spokeswoman for the Suicide Prevention Alliance said. “Part of the reason for less suicide during vacations is once a year, when we tend to contact family and friends. I think we saw some of them during the pandemic.” (December 31, 2020) )

Dispel myths and provide help

Suicide rates fell in 2020.So was media coverage of the link between holidays and suicide.

Monthly average of daily suicides in 2020. The 2020 CDC data is tentative. Credits: Data: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Table: Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Romer said it was important for reporters and the press to uncover the myth. Making people think that they are more likely to commit suicide during the holiday season can have a contagious effect on those who are thinking of suicide. National recommendations for reporting suicide advise journalists not to promote information that could increase transmission, such as reports of epidemics or seasonal increases, especially if the allegations are not really grounded. increase. These recommendations, made by the Journalism and Suicide Prevention Group in collaboration with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, provide reporters with reliable sources such as the CDC to discuss suicide rates and provide information on resources that can help people in need. It states that it is necessary.

Journalists who help dispel the myth of holiday suicide can provide resources to readers who are or know someone at potential risk. Valuable information is provided by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Department (SAMHSA). The national suicide prevention lifeline in the United States is 800-273-TALK (8255). The Federal Communications Commission has approved a plan to specify a three-digit phone number 988 for suicide prevention phones, which will be implemented by July 16, 2022.


Searching both the LexisNexis database and the NewsBank database identified news and feature stories linking suicide to holidays.I used the term “” in my searchHoliday“And” suicide “and (Christmas or Thanksgiving or New Year) from November 15, 2020 to January 31, 2021. The APPC search was originally performed in the LexisNexis database, but was expanded in 2019 to include NewsBank for greater coverage of the US press. .. A reanalysis of the past few years since 2015-16, including NewsBank, mythology.. Researchers determined whether the story endorsed the link, uncovered it, or showed an accidental reference. The accidental story has been eliminated. Only domestic suicides were counted. For example, suicide bombings abroad were excluded.

Avoid unfounded claims about suicide during the holiday season unlike any other

Provided by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania

Quote: Suicide rate fell in 2020. Media coverage of the Holiday Suicide Link (December 1, 2021) was also taken from on December 1, 2021. -holiday-suicide.html

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Suicide rates fell in 2020. The same was true for media coverage of holiday and suicide links.

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