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Published February 01, 2013, 11:30 PM

Despite this year’s obit spike, January not always deadliest

100 more obituaries placed in The Forum this January compared with January 2012
FARGO – Readers may have noticed a grim trend within the pages of The Forum in January.

By: Angie Wieck, INFORUM

FARGO – Readers may have noticed a grim trend within the pages of The Forum in January.

In January, The Forum ran 277 paid obituaries, totaling 3,834 column inches. The average number of obits per month in 2012 was just 199.

There is a common perception that more people die in the month of January than any other month.

Is there truth to the notion that people hang on in order to spend one more Christmas with their families? Do extreme changes in weather or the arrival of the flu bug or seasonal depression have any effect on January mortality rates?

Funeral directors seemed the logical first call. While several were familiar with what one called the “urban legend,” many did not think the data would support it.

Jim Boulger of Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo said he keeps record of the number of arrangements held there as well as at other area funeral homes and he believes the numbers are relatively steady between months.

Tom Pence of Korsmo Funeral Service in Moorhead agreed and said he would hesitate to say January is their busiest month.

“We have had some Januaries where we’ve had eight funerals or six funerals, and then this past January we had 20,” Korsmo said.

The most current data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2008 through 2010 shows January consistently has high number of deaths compared to other months, but it was not always at the top.

Looking at The Forum’s own obituary pages, January is not always the busiest month, either. But what did stand out was the number of obituaries placed this January. The Forum ran 100 more in 2013 than 2012.

What is behind the jump? Is it simply a sign of an aging population?

Pence and Boulger both said they have had a busier than normal month, but neither could point to any one cause.

There are no statistics available yet from area public health agencies or the CDC.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501