Are you guys so excited for New Year’s Eve?!? Wow. Honestly that’s very messed up of you—number one, because it’s terrible, and number two because it ushers in the day on which we are all most likely to meet our respective makers.

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We are all familiar with the idea that more people die around the holidays due to the unsavory combination of alcohol, icy roads, and general sadness (right?). Several years ago, Sociologist David Phillips and a team of researchers published a study that found that Americans’ risk of dying on New Year’s Day and Christmas was increased not only because of those factors—on those days, the most people died of natural causes, too.

The team analyzed every official U.S. death certificate from 1979 to 2004 (totaling just under 57.5 million), and found that in the two weeks beginning at Christmas, there is “an excess of 42,325 deaths from natural causes above and beyond the normal winter increase,” with January 1 being the deadliest day all year. But they don’t really have any idea why.

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The Washington Post reports:

Not only do we not know what’s driving the seasonality, we’re not even trying to figure it out as far as Phillips is concerned. Nobody he’s aware of is doing any research into it. “It’s not only a mystery, but a mystery that people haven’t even tried to engage with,” he said...

He did come up with a couple of hypotheses that he wasn’t able to eliminate completely: There has been some research showing that ‘people postpone going into the ER around the holidays because they want to be with their family,’ he said. In situations where minutes or seconds can mean the difference between life and death, some folks may be, say, feeling a twinge of chest pain at the start of dinner but not telling anybody about it until afterward.

However, another 2013 British study found that patients admitted to hospitals on public holidays are much more likely to die than those admitted on any other day, including weekends.

So... I don’t know what to say. Good luck?


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

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Image via Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock.