14. The “suicide wave” that followed the United States stock market crash of October 1929 is more legend than fact. Careful examination of the monthly figures on the causes of death in 1929 shows that the number of suicides in October and in November was comparatively low. In only three other months were the monthly figures lower. During the summer months, when the stock market was flourishing, the number of suicides was substantially higher.
Which one of the following, if true, would best challenge the conclusion of the passage?
(A) The suicide rate is influenced by many psychological, interpersonal, and societal factors during any given historical period.
Not helpful for contradicting the argument. This neither supports nor hurts the conclusion of the passage. Whatever the cause of the suicide rate in Oct/Nov 1929, the researchers are arguing it was something else, perhaps some other psychological, interpersonal or societal factors. Someone contradicting the researchers, however, would need to use the same logic since the suicide rate is lower than you'd expect if the legendary relationship existed. There may be other psychological, interpersonal and societal factors at play, in addition to the stock market crash, that made it somewhat lower in absolute terms.
(B) October and November have almost always had relatively high suicide rates, even during the 1920s and 1930s.
This would at best have no effect on the argument and at worst help the researchers. If the suicide rates in historically deadly months are very low in 1929, you'd have to assume that something about that year caused people to want to live more than in other years. It'd be seemingly impossible to tie that back to the stock market crash without additional info.
(C) The suicide rate in October and November of 1929 was considerably higher than the average for those months during several preceding and following years.
This seems like the right one. Even if the suicide rate was low in absolute terms it could still be high compared to other Oct/Nov close to 1929. In that case, it would be easy to argue that something specific to 1929 caused it to spike and that thing could be the stock market crash.
(D) During the years surrounding the stock market crash, suicide rates were typically lower at the beginning of any calendar year than toward the end of that year.
Just like B, this would have no effect or help the researchers. If the rate should be higher than other months but actually ended up lower, it would be hard to argue that the stock market crash caused more suicides and a higher rate.
(E) Because of seasonal differences, the number of suicides in October and November of 1929 would not be expected to be the same as those for other months.
This is very close and could be the most difficult answer to set aside. Obviously this is what the opposition would use as a premise to answer C. Baked into the argument that Oct/Nov 1929 was relatively high for other Oct/Novs could be the assumption stated in E: seasonal differences would make the "baseline" or "expected suicide rate" lower than the overall suicide rate. However, E is made a much weaker choice because it lacks a direction. Due to the ambiguity, the suicide rate in Oct/Nov could be higher
because of seasonal differences
This is a pretty good CR and I agree that the answer should be C.