Do More People Die During the Holidays?

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It’s not a myth; Several studies show you have a greater chance of dying on Christmas, the day after Christmas or New Year’s Day than any other single day of the year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is true for people who die of natural causes, which make up 93% of all deaths.

Holiday Deaths

A national study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine tried to point to possible reasons after concluding that an increase in holiday deaths indeed occurs every year during the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s.

The study, led by University of California at San Diego sociology professor David Phillips, looked at 57.5 million death certificates from 1979 to 2004. It found 42,325 more people died of natural causes, about 93 percent of all deaths, during the two-week Christmas/New Year holiday period than would normally be expected.

So what’s the explanation?

Many people guess that the cause is simply the colder weather, but Dr. Phillips says if that were true, “You would expect fewer deaths in the warmer, southern United States compared to the North, and we don’t see that.

Dr. Phillips looked at nine probable explanations — including that people travel more during the holidays, that there is overcrowding at emergency rooms, and that terminally ill patients try to be home during the holidays — but could find no data to support any of the explanations.

If the worst does happen, resources are available. In fact, BrainTap founder, Dr. Patrick Porter, recently released an audio-series, 8 Steps to Dealing with Grief, after suffering the loss of his father.

“Learning to work through grief can be a valuable tool in moving on,” says Dr. Porter. “That’s why I’ve created a new series that is available now in the BrainTap On-Demand Library.”

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“Grief doesn’t have to overtake your life,” says Dr. Porter. “You can move through it, leave the guilt, anger and helplessness in the past, and return to living a full and productive life after the loss of a loved one. Look for the 8 Steps to Dealing with Grief Audio Series under the Behavior/Recovery category on the BrainTap app.

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