If you’re reading this you survived another Christmas. Congratulations! But, statistically speaking, you may not be out of the holiday mortality-risk woods just yet. Researchers at the University of California at
San Diego did a comprehensive study of 57.5 million U.S. death certificates during a 25-year period from 1979 to 2004 and founded the both cardiac and non-cardiac deaths spike significantly during the two-week
period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Want even less comfort and joy? Holiday deaths are trending upward. If you don’t already have it, maybe now would be a good time to shop for life insurance quotes.
The study, which was published in Social Science & Medicine, 2010, found that 42,325 more people died of natural causes during the Christmas/New Year’s window than would normally be attributed to winter death upticks. In fact, the study found that your odds of dying over the holidays are between 3% and 9% higher,
depending on the demographic group you’re in, and between 1% to 10% higher, depending on the cause of death analyzed by the study.
Death doesn’t discriminate, either. Deaths were attributed to a range of diseases that turned terminal over the holidays including circulatory, cancer, respiratory, digestive and endocrine/nutritional/metabolic, and whose victims were dead on arrival or died in the hospital emergency wards. By the way, the top three deadliest days were December 25 and 26, and January 1.
The reason for the spike remains elusive. The authors of the research speculated that holiday-induced stress could be a contributing factor, but not the sole explanation. Other possible causes could be people putting off getting treatment because of the holidays, overcrowded and understaffed emergency rooms, cold weather and substance abuse. The suggestion that a sick person would subconsciously postpone death until a significant holiday was dismissed as unlikely.
So, let’s get back to life insurance . One company’s press release claims that the purchase of life insurance coverage drops during December. Not surprising. “Hi, honey, I bought you $150,000 worth of whole life
in case I buy the farm screaming at a New Year’s football game or shoveling snow off the walkway” doesn’t have the magic of a diamond ring. Still, it’s not too late to purchase a little coverage for a loved one.