Fact Check: Media May Unintentionally Mislead About Holiday Suicide Statistics

Fact Check: Media May Unintentionally Mislead About Holiday Suicide Statistics

6:00am Dec 27, 2018
Courtesy: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

News organizations often report that suicides go up over the holiday season. But according to federal statistics, that’s not just true.

According to a new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, many media outlets perpetuate a myth that suicides rise during the holidays.

In fact, the exact opposite is true: according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are least likely to take their own lives in November and December. The number one month is May.

The national suicide rate has grown 25.4 percent from 1999-2016. North Carolina’s rate is half that, but the problem remains.

The Annenberg study found that about two-thirds of stories about suicide written during the holidays last year reinforced the incorrect information, even if those journalists were trying to help their communities by raising awareness.

The CDC advises anyone who’s worried about a friend or loved one to reach out and talk to that person, listen to what they have to say, and follow up with them, if possible. The Centers also encourage employers and communities to provide more resources for people who may be thinking about hurting themselves.

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