Death by Holiday

December 21, 2010

Ho, ho, ho.

A new study has revealed that the holidays, especially Christmas and New Year’s days, creates a strange, but opportune time to die.
The report in the journal Social Science & Medicine details how for some reason people have a much-higher tendency to suffer fatal attacks on those two holidays than any other time period of the year — maybe just plain sick of Santa’s ass.

There’s a known correlation between the holidays and death via vehicles and alcohol — two to three times more people die on the nation’s roads than any other time of the year — 40 percent of traffic fatalities during that time involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired, compared to 28 percent for the rest of the month.

(Illustration found here).

This new death research, however, concerns dying by natural causes in hospital ERs — people  just dropping dead.
From Canada’s National Post:

A new U.S. analysis of mortality rates during different times of year found that people are more likely to die during the holidays — notably on Christmas and New Year’s Day — and researchers cannot explain the yearly spike.
After analyzing all official United States death certificates over the 25-year period between 1979 and 2004, a trio of sociologists identified an excess of 42,325 natural deaths — that is, above and beyond the normal seasonal winter increase — in the two weeks starting with Christmas.

More people die in hospital emergency wards, or arrive dead on arrival, on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day than on any other days of the year.
“It’s not trivial,” said Mr. Phillips, a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego.
“We looked at all cause categories and, for nearly every one, we found an excess of deaths — particularly for people who are dying rapidly, like dead-on-arrival or dying in the emergency department.”

The big question is why.

“It’s speculated that psychological stress can make a difference,” Mr. Phillips said.
“But to make a difference so quickly and so precisely bang-on Christmas and [New Year’s Day], for a huge range of diseases, makes it seem unlikely as a broad-scale explanation.”


The reseachers noted two other, smaller single-day jumps in crib deaths in U.S. data: a 14% spike on July 5, the day after Independence Day, and an 18% boost on April 20, which the authors noted is a “counterculture holiday devoted to the celebration of cannabis consumption.”

A bowl and booze don’t mix — one of the reasons I quit drinking.

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