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Nord J Psychiatry. 2018 Jan;72(1):72-74. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2017.1378716. Epub 2017 Sep 22.

Increased suicides during new year, but not during Christmas in Sweden: analysis of cause of death data 2006-2015.

Author information

1
a Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet , National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health, Stockholm , Sweden.
2
b Department of Psychology , Stockholm University, Stockholm , Sweden.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Previous studies have investigated the impact of the Christmas and New Year holiday on suicide rates. However, no such data has yet been published on Swedish suicides.

AIMS:

To examine the occurrence of suicides on these dates in Sweden between 2006 and 2015.

METHODS:

The suicide count for each date between December 15th and January 15th was obtained from the Swedish cause of death registry. The observations were transformed to Z-scores to enable calculation of p-values.

RESULTS:

A small but non-significant decrease in suicides was observed on Christmas and New Year's Eve. A significant spike was found on New Year's Day (NYD) (Z = 3.40; p < .001), and these excess suicide occurred mainly among men aged 15-24 and 45-64. However, the number of suicides were somewhat lower than expected on the 31st of December (Z = -1.58; p = .115).

DISCUSSION:

The noted increase in suicide on NYD is in line with previous research from other countries. However, the decrease in suicides on the day before NYD suggests a delay rather than a spontaneous increase of suicides. Possible mechanisms to explain this phenomenon are discussed, such as the "broken promise effect", increased alcohol consumption, or lower help-seeking and accessibility to care.

KEYWORDS:

Christmas; Suicide; Sweden; alcohol use; broken promise effect; holidays; new year; prevention

PMID:
28937861
DOI:
10.1080/08039488.2017.1378716
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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