Many people believe that the suicide rate increases during the holidays.
Actually, research shows that is just a myth, promoted by media. The CDC reports an
analysis found 50% of articles written during the 2009-2010 holiday season perpetuated the
myth (CDC, 2011). December actually has fewer suicides and some studies suggest that
Christmas adds a "protective" factor through the holidays. Suicide actually peaks in the
spring and the fall.
Depression, mood disorders, and substance abuse do increase during December. Social
isolation is the biggest predictor of depression during this time of the year. Many of our
elderly or disabled patients feel disconnected, excluded, or even overwhelmed with holiday
This blog looks at the following topics:
- Facts & Statistics: The Truth About the Holiday Suicide Myth
- Social Isolation
- Grieving During the Holidays
- Dealing with Holiday Depression
- Suicide Risk
Encourage your staff to assess more carefully signs and symptoms of depression for elders
who are isolated and include more intervention strategies to assist the patients in need.
Woodward, A.T., Taylor, R.J., Abelson, J.M., and Matusko, N., 2013. Depression and Anxiety.
This article discusses the differences for major depressive disorders (MDD) including
African-Americans and Black Caribbean populations.
Lifetime Rates of MDD
- Non-Hispanic Whites - 24%
- Black Caribbean's - 23%
- African-Americans - 17%
Caribbean Gender Lifetime Rates of MDD
These findings are opposite of that found in most populations (e.g., Non-Hispanic whites or
African-Americans) where women have typically higher rates.
Common comorbidities were found with the MDD group across all three race/ethnicity groups
including high blood pressure, arthritis, ulcers, and asthma at similar rates. Additionally
there were similar mental health comorbidities across race/ethnicity groups:
- Anxiety disorders - 56%
- Lifetime dysthymia - 50%
- Lifetime suicidal ideation - 48%
- Lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - 45%
The article states that more research is needed for older African-Americans to ensure the treatment is appropriate and to identify underlying causes.