Many suicides at the start of January

22/12/2003 10:00

In 2002 there were 1567 Dutch residents who ended their lives. This is an increase of more than six percent on 2001. The increase seems to have ended the downward trend in the number of suicides that started in 1985.

The average number of people who end their lives is over four a day. The numbers are not spread evenly throughout the year, according to an analysis of the period 1997-2002. There are remarkably few people who end their lives on 25 December, whereas there are relatively many people who commit suicide at the start of January.

Suicides per day, by month of death, 1997/2002

Suicides per day, by month of death, 1997/2002

Many suicides in January

In January and in spring the number of suicides a day is considerable higher that in the other months. The peak is in January.

The lowest suicide rate is observed in September, October, November and December. In November, the month with the lowest suicide rate, there are on average 15 percent fewer suicides than in January.

Most suicides are not committed in the gloomy fall but rather in January and the pleasantly mild spring.

There is a clear pattern in January. Most suicides occur in the first week: on average five a day. After this the rate falls with each week in January. In the fourth week the suicide rate is almost 20 percent lower than in the first week.

Suicides per day by special days of the year, 1997/2002

Suicides per day by special days of the year, 1997/2002

Relatively few suicides on Christmas

There are relatively many suicides in the Netherlands on New Years Day (1 January) and Easter when the average is over five suicides a day. There are relatively few people who end their lives on Christmas.

On Christmas day (25 December) the suicide rate is less than half of the average day in the year.

In the period 1997-2002 ten people committed suicide on Christmas, less than two a year. December 26, the second day of Christmas in the Netherlands, also has less than the average number of suicides, namely three.

Suicides per day of the week, 1997/2002

Suicides per day of the week, 1997/2002

Most suicides on Mondays

The highest suicide rate is observed on Mondays, the lowest on Saturdays. On Mondays an average of five people commit suicide. The rate goes down to 3.5 on a Saturday. On Sundays the suicide rate is just under the average of the period of 4.2 a day.

Jan Hoogenboezem

Source: StatLine (Dutch only)