Are There More Deaths in Winter? Yes, and Here’s Why.

It sounds like an urban myth: there are more deaths in winter months, compared to other times of the year. But unlike most urban myths, it turns out this one is true in the U.S. Even more surprising – perhaps unsettling – is that deaths tend to spike during the holidays, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Why is this the case? Why are there more deaths in winter? Let’s consider some likely factors:

Factor #1: It’s Cold Outside

When the weather turns cold, we tend to hibernate and stay indoors. That’s where germs gather, too, and we cocoon with them, rendering us more susceptible to illness. Also, cold weather breeds snow and ice, not exactly the safest environment for outdoor activities, so cold weather-related accidents come into play as well. And finally, we being more couch potatoey in winter, to the detriment of our health.

Factor #2: Stress

Winter is stressful, particularly around the holidays. And without the de-stressers of summertime fun, that stress has few outlets. Throw in holiday shopping, entertaining, and yes, spending more time with family, and stress can take its toll.

Factor #3: Travel

Even though we might take a break or two from daily commutes, the holidays often bring travel. In winter. On snow. And ice. Longer trips to less familiar places when the days are short can increase the likelihood of travel-related accidents.

Factor #4: Staff Issues

While illness and accidents trend upward during winter and the holidays, hospitals and emergency rooms tend to be less fully staffed. What’s more, the staff on-hand tend to be less experienced as more senior caregivers take much-needed time off. Result: response times, amount of personal attention, and the quality of care can suffer, leading to health crises and even death in some cases.

Factor #5: Holding On

With holidays approaching, it’s possible that many people who are very ill manage to will themselves to hold on until the holidays pass. Perhaps this comes from a desire to see family one last time or to not cast a pall on the holidays. Whatever the reason, deaths tend to spike at the end of the calendar year.

And a NON-Factor:

One urban myth that IS an urban myth is this: Suicides go up in winter, especially around the holidays. That’s what we always hear. Truth is, however, according to the CDC, that suicide rates do not increase in winter the way other diseases do.

The Bottom Line:

So, while there is little research to definitively substantiate these factors as causes for more deaths in winter, the fact is that the number of deaths DO increase this time of year. And many experts, either by study or experience, credit the above as contributing factors. Therefore, it’s certainly wise to be aware of the increased risks and take necessary precautions to minimize them.

If your family does experience the passing of a loved one, regardless of the season, our dedicated funeral professionals at Stillinger Family Funeral Home can help you create loving tributes to appropriately honor the departed. To learn more, contact us at (317) 462-5536.

Leave a Reply 0 comments

> More Comments

We appreciate your interest in this topic
In accordance with our policy, this
message has been declined.