A drop in suicides around major national holidays

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1987 Spring;17(1):1-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278x.1987.tb00057.x.


To study the fluctuation of suicides around the holidays, we examined 188,047 U.S. suicides from 1973 to 1979. Correcting for the effects of extraneous variables, such as seasons and days of the week, we found that suicides dropped by an annual average of -102.5 in the period surrounding the holidays. One set of holidays (Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) was associated with an unusually low risk of suicide before, during, and after the holiday. Another set of holidays (New Year's Day, July 4th, and Labor Day) was associated with a low risk of suicide before the holiday and a high risk just afterwards. Almost all demographic groups experienced a low risk of suicide around the holidays: whites, blacks, males, females, retired persons, and persons of working age. Only white teenagers deviated from this pattern. Thus, the evidence does not support the widespread popular assumption that holidays are a risk factor in suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Holidays*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Suicide / epidemiology*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • United States