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Media Continue to Perpetuate Myth of Winter Holiday-Suicide Link

Many newspaper stories about suicides during the 2000 winter holiday season linked end-of-year holidays and suicide, despite the fact that such a link is a myth, according to a new study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Suicides actually peak in the spring and are not more common during the winter holiday period.

“While it might make the story more interesting to make a connection between Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years and a suicide, the fact of the matter is that reporters who make that connection are making a link that just doesn’t exist,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

“The myth that suicides increase during the Christmas holidays dies hard,” said Dr. Herbert Hendin, Medical Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Reporters often sound disappointed when they hear it isn’t true.”