A Comparison of Suicide-Dip Effects of Major Sport Events and Civil Holidays

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Waterloo
  • 2 University of Illinois
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Recent research has shown that there are “death dips” for suicide around major ceremonial occasions, and for certain public holidays in particular. This research suggests that the suicide-dip phenomenon is caused by increased social integration associated with such occasions. Elsewhere in the literature, sociological interpretations of major sport events indicate that they, too, serve as ceremonial occasions and play an integrative role in society. Building from these two sets of observations, we test the hypothesis that suicide rates for the national population (1972-78) are lower than expected during and just before two sport ceremonial days: the last day of the World Series and Super Bowl Sunday. Comparisons are made with suicide patterns around two civil holidays—the 4th of July and Thanksgiving Day—for which suicide dips have previously been reported. The results for both the sport events and the civil holidays show that suicides are comparatively low just before and during the ceremonial days and comparatively high just after them. The effects for the sport ceremonies are weak, but the common elements in the patterns of findings for the sport events and civil holidays suggest that the suicide-dip phenomenon extends to these sport ceremonies.

We gratefully acknowledge that support for our analyses was provided by the University of Waterloo and the University of Illinois and that Garry Chick, Jeremy Howell, Barry McPherson, Charles Page, and Nancy Theberge gave helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Direct all correspondence to James Curtis, Dept. of Sociology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont., Canada, N2L 3G1.
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