Happy Christmas Or Merry Christmas?

In England we say either, in the USA we say Merry Christmas – It’s Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For some people it is neither. This isn’t about colloquialisms at all, it’s about something much more serious, which if statistics are to be trusted will peak on January 1st.

This post is something of an addendum to the trilogy we just finished The Pursuit Of Unhappiness. Pt I, II, and III, and also a bridge to the next trilogy beginning next week. We’ll take some tangents, but it will all tie in at the end. Trust me :).

First we’ll debunk a myth – Suicide does not increase in December. In fact, December is one of the lowest months for suicide rates. Why? Well, I haven’t studied this in a scientific manner, but people tend to spend time with families and loved ones in December, and they have hope for the magical changing of the date. In short, they feel a sense of belonging and believe things will get better.

Believe it or not, Spring is the time when people are more likely to take their life through suicide. A time of hope, renewal, and freshness in the air, and yet this is a time when people feel the most hopeless. For those who want to see a chart there is one at the bottom with a reference.

As far as days are concerned, New Year’s Day is the only day that sees a significant increase. Why would people take their lives at a time of new beginnings and hope? Because for whatever reason, we have decided this particular new day is a magical clean slate and everything old is washed away. Except it isn’t. For those who already lack hope and can’t see a new start, a nationally recognised “new start” doesn’t mean anything. If anything, it compounds hopelessness.

Next week we are going to look at three things we can all do to help reduce this growing problem of suicide which is now a top 10 killer in the country, and number 2 for those between the ages of 15-34 years old (there is still some data-based, scientific and research-based information on the CDC site – link at the bottom).

There is good news and we can fix this. We CAN fix this.

Here are the three takeaways for today:

1 – The three holidays with significantly lower suicide rates are Christmas, Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Time of family, community and coming together. There is a story here.

2 – A “new you” doesn’t have to wait, and a “new you” won’t magically happen on January 1st. But that doesn’t mean a “new you” can’t happen (we looked at this in I Think I Can – I Think I Can – I… Oh… Pt I, II, III). It can happen at any moment you choose. Don’t put magical meaning on a day.

3 – We so desperately need to focus on the right things – hope, planning, taking steps, helping people have value, and above all – connection. We need to work together. This isn’t a government problem or gun problem (although they don’t help), this is a society problem. If you’re a part of society, it’s you’re problem. It’s my problem.

So what’s next? Well… We just finished looking at the Pursuit of Unhappiness, next up we will have three positive posts all about the pursuit of not just life, but being alive! We’ve got this, we can change the world!

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Beauchamp, G. A., Ho, M. L., & Yin, S. (2014). Variation in Suicide Occurrence by Day and during Major American Holidays. Journal Of Emergency Medicine, (6), 776. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.09.023

Click to access leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2015-a.pdf

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