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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.

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



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.


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


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.


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).


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.


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

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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