Christmas: A season of joy and togetherness and shopping and joy and shopping. It might be true that Christmas has become really commercialized (as you might have heard from Charlie Brown once or twice), but people generally seem to enjoy it. Aside from the stress, and family you hate, the travel and the junk lying around the house, of course. And the music.
Actually, when we hear that suicide rates jump during the holidays, it's easy to believe it. Especially if you've ever spent a Christmas drunk and alone, tearing up as you sit in your apartment and watch your favorite Christmas movie from childhood (Die Hard).
Why Is It a Load of Crap?
Actually, the suicide rate goes down significantly. Why?
While it's depressing as hell to be alone on Christmas, the truth is most of us aren't. It's just hard to commit suicide when there's people around constantly trying to get you to wear ugly sweaters. Depressed or not, most people aren't big enough dicks to let the kiddies find them hanging over the Christmas tree with a note pinned to their chest.
Who Started It?
In this case, no one fooled us more than ourselves. It's what they call confirmation bias; we decide ahead of time that people should get depressed over the holidays, so when we hear somebody killed themselves on Christmas, we assume the holiday was the reason.
Never mind that far more people kill themselves on President's day, and most other lesser holidays. Never mind that there could have been a thousand other reasons to be depressed.
Who Was Fooled?
The movie Gremlins, for one. A character quotes the suicide stat, which is one of several scientific inaccuracies we noticed in that film (see swimming after eating).
But also, just about every newspaper in the country tends to climb on board. Studies indicate that newspapers actually emphasize suicides during the holidays over the rest of the year, again assuming a link between the suicide and the holiday when they didn't even know if the victim recognized that it was the holiday at all.
In the general population, whether or not you believe this stat tends to depend on how much you hate Christmas (see this typical response from a ray of sunshine talking about how it's "no wonder" suicide rates go up that time of year).
For some reason, when we're miserable we like to project it on other people, and assume they're all miserable too. And, if thinking that other people are suicidal makes you feel a little less suicidal yourself, then go for it.
For more, go buy You Might Be a Zombie anywhere books are sold online or in person.
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