The suicide rate actually peaks at late spring/early summer, not the holidays
as persistent as it is wrong. I think this is one of those beliefs that persists because we WANT it to be true, rather than because we actually think it is. Anyone who has had to drag themselves through a round of holiday shopping or sat through another tense family meal can find it a credible belief, right?
(And of course, the idea of holiday suicide was cemented in Frank Capra's holiday classic, "It's A Wonderful Life.')
The truth is that suicide rates increase in the warm weather of summer. And not only do we not understand why, but this has been true for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. A sociologist named Emile Durkheim studied the rate of suicides in Europe in the 1800s and found that they peaked at the height of summer.
We often blame the "winter blues" for our belief that suicide increases. The additional darkness, combined with the dreary weather, can make it feel like this would be true. But Durkheim noted that winter is the time when we spend most time with other people (if not always by choice). And one of the leading predictors of suicide is the amount of time the victim spends with other people. The less social contact you have, the more likely you are to commit suicide. (We are social monkeys at heart.)
The belief that the stress of the holidays causes suicide is also somewhat due to a lack of understanding about the causes of suicide itself. When people say that "stress leads to suicide," they mean stressors like losing a job, the death of a spouse, divorce, the death of a child, being the victim of sexual abuse, and so forth. You can't really compare these situations to a stressor like "the grocery store was really busy" or "I don't like spending time with Aunt Fran."
However, no one is quite sure why suicides peak with the weather. It may be that hot weather makes people more irritable and inclined to fights. Or that nice weather draws people outside, away from each other.
That being said, the holidays certainly can be difficult. If you are having a rough time, or have been thinking about suicide lately, please reach out for help. You can speak to a friend, a family member, a therapist, or contact the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.