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Holiday-Suicide Link: Newspapers Continue to Perpetuate the Myth

Despite no basis in fact, newspapers continue to report on the increased risk of suicide around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays. An analysis of newspaper reporting over the past seven years released today by the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that this story represents about half of all holiday-relevant suicide reporting.

Stories linking suicides and the holidays during the 2005-2006 end-of-year season represented about 57 percent of the articles written, a statistically insignificant change from the 2004-2005 holiday period. The rest of the stories debunked the myth.

As noted in previous studies, the rate of suicide in the U.S. is lowest in December, and peaks in the spring and fall. Data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics show that this pattern has not changed through 2003, the most recent year for which national data are available.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania has been tracking holiday suicide reporting since 2000 when it released its first press alert on newspaper coverage of the myth.