Did you know funeral homes have a busy season?
More people die in November, December or January than any other month of the year. And the spike in holiday deaths cannot be attributed to suicides. Contrary to popular belief, suicide numbers do not increase during the holidays. In fact, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that natural causes account for 93% of all yuletide fatalities.
So why the spike? Opinions vary. Here are a few:
Reduced Holiday Staff & Deaths
A British study found that patients in emergency rooms on public holidays are significantly more likely to die than those admitted other days of the week – including weekends. So, could the cause be related to the number of staff on hand in hospitals? If this were the cause, deaths during every major holiday would mirror those in November through January. But that isn’t the case. No equivalent spikes occurred during any other major holiday, according to
David Phillips, a sociology professor at the University of California, San Diego, who studied the phenomenon.
Deaths Due to Winter Weather
Since more people die in winter months than fall, summer or spring, could the underlying cause be weather-related? To address this topic, a recent Scientific America points to a study done in 2016. Researchers examined the potential influence of freezing temperatures on mortality, by examining 738,000 deaths in New Zealand, where Christmas comes during the warm summer months. Outside of the hospital, 4.2 percent more deaths occurred during the last week of December and the first week of January – the period encompassing Christmas and New Year’s Eve – than would be expected if the holidays were unrelated to death rates. In other words, holiday death rates spike even in warm Christmas climates.
Dietary Changes Impacting Health
People often point to rich food relative to Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza as likely contributors to death during the holidays. But this is not accurate, since patients in treatment, with carefully monitored diets, die during these months at the same rate as their holiday party-going peers.
Postponed Medical Appointments Resulting in Death
People who aren’t feeling well might put off doctor’s appointments or trips to the hospital so they can celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Could this be the underlying cause? According to Business Insider, doctors in New York City estimate that visits spike 5-12% during the holidays, often due to illnesses such as influenza and the common cold. Doctors across the country report similar increases in winter patient load. So, more (not fewer) people seek health care during the holidays than the rest of the year.
Death & Stress
With family, financial and social obligations at an all-time high, few would argue the holidays are stressful. But is the added strain enough to increase the incidence of death? According to The Holmes And Rahe Stress Scale, the answer would be, “No.” The holidays do not even rank on the Top 10 Stress Scale, which includes 1.) death of a spouse, 2.) divorce 3.) marital separation 4.) imprisonment 5.) death of a close family member 6.) personal injury or illness 7.) marriage 8.) dismissal from work 9.) marital reconciliation and 10.) retirement.
In the final analysis, the mystery remains. We aren’t sure why more people die during the holiday season than any other time of the year. But when you lose someone you love, at any time of the year, we would love to help you in your time of need.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation
Drop by our Glendora showroom any time. In Covina, our relationship with Sacred Heart Chapel is the perfect place for mourners to host funerals and memorial services in a grandiose yet intimate setting. We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Working in the mortuary industry since 1996, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. Please allow us to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.