Happy New Year! And Be Careful!!
The end of 2018 is fast approaching. 2019 will soon be upon us. I wish you health and happiness for the new year.
And by all means, get past New Year’s Day!
A 2010 study done at the University of California found that deaths spike in the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day, with January 1 being the day of the year with the highest number of deaths from natural causes.
In the study, researchers looked at death certificates issued in the US over a 25 year period. This study differed from other studies that looked at deaths from self-harm, accidents and homicide in that it looked at deaths relating to natural causes, such as illness and old age.
Researchers found that 5% more people die on January 1 from natural causes than any other day.
Christmas and New Year as risk factors for death, D. Phillips, G. Barker and K. Brewer, Social Science and Medicine 71 (2010) 1463
No empirical reason for this trend is given in the study. However, several possible explanations are set out. These include:
- Increased psychological stress;
- Overcrowded [or perhaps understaffed] hospitals during the holiday season;
- Terminally ill patients may choose to be home and out of the hospital during the holiday season;
- Increased travel;
- People may be able to postpone death briefly in order to reach symbolic occasions;
Other theories are presented but dismissed as implausible or unlikely.
Another theory is that people postpone going to the hospital around the holidays because they want to be with their family. This can be dangerous. As reported in the Independent, “if you’ve got pains in your chest, don’t say I’m going to wait until after the holidays to get it looked at”.
Have a very happy, safe and healthy New Year’s Day, and new year!