Seasons of Death

Posted on November 11, 2019 by Lifesong Funerals under cremation
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Cremations are one of the cremation services offered in Tallahassee, FL, but it may surprise you to learn that there tend to be more deaths and cremations during some parts of the calendar year than during others.

Funeral home directors have been tracking data related to death and seasons for quite some time. In their analysis, they began to recognize that there is definite seasonality to death. They found out that winter months, especially December and January, have much death rates than summer months like June and July.

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Death rates not only are very high during the winter months, but they tend to be exceptionally high during the Christmas-to-New Year’s timeframe, as discovered by sociologist David Phillips. Phillips studied more than 57 million deaths that occurred between the years of 1979 and 2004. In each year, Phillips found a recurring jump in the number of deaths that happened during the two weeks after Christmas Day. Incidentally, Phillips’ data showed that January has the highest average number of deaths, while September has the lowest average number of deaths.

This increase in the chances of dying during the winter as opposed to the summer is a statistic fact that is independent of milder fluctuations in seasonal weather as well as where people live in the United States. But it begs the question why.

Once people know that the wintertime has the highest death rate, they may assume that suicides push the numbers higher, because of the prevalence of winter blues and the holiday season blues. However, the facts tell a different story. The summer months tend to see an increase in the number of suicide deaths (and Mondays are the most frequently chosen day).

When you take the data as a whole, the leading causes of death in America can be grouped into three broad categories: summer seasonal (6%), not seasonal (24%), and winter seasonal (69%).

The not seasonal deaths include causes of death like cancer, homicides, and infant deaths. Summer seasonal deaths include suicides and accidents (driving, boating, drowning, etc.). While it might seem that there would be more deaths caused by accidents in snowy and icy weather during the winter months, the reality is that many parts of the United States get little to no extreme winter weather, and in areas of the country where the winter weather is much more dangerous, people have the good sense to not get out in it.

There are some definite correlations between illnesses and the abundance of winter seasonality deaths. The winter months are prime time for serious illnesses like the flu and pneumonia, both of which can be fatal. There is also a correlation between weather and death in places that do see quite a bit of snow during the winter. There is a very sharp rise in fatal heart attacks during the winter months. Many of these occur while people are doing snow removal, a task that requires heavy exertion. The combination of heavy exertion combined with extreme cold wreaks havoc on the heart, which in turn can be fatal.

The good news about the seasonality of death, is as the author Anthony Trollope pointed out, is that season mortality starts to decrease significantly by around May 7th of each year.

For more information about cremation services offered in Tallahassee, FL, including grief resources, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lifesong Funerals & Cremations is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 20 S. Duval St., Quincy, FL 32351, or you can call us today at (850) 627-1111.

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