Abrupt Link Between Hotter Temperature and Suicidal Rates


The researchers analysed the relationship between temperature and suicide using monthly data from National Vital Statistics System and National Institute of Statistics and Geography, spanning thousands of USA counties and Mexican cities over multiple decades.

The findings were published July 23 in the journal Nature Climate Change. "Now we see that in addition to hurting others, some individuals hurt themselves", study co-author Solomon Hsiang explained.

Hsiang said that heat appears to have a profound effect on the human mind and how people decide to inflict harm.

To distinguish between the role of temperatures and other suicide factors, the experts compared historical data across thousands of regions in the United States and Mexico.

Climate change apparently also affects people's mental health.

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As if climate change wasn't bringing enough problems, a new study reports that rising temperatures will cause more suicides.

The study found climate change could lead to 9,000 to 44,000 additional suicides across the USA and Mexico by 2050. "But the thousands of additional suicides that are likely to occur as a result of unmitigated climate change are not just a number, they represent tragic losses for families across the country". Burke, who is one of the authors of the paper said that the findings are "brutal".

Hotter temperatures were almost the same as the influence of economic recessions, which increase suicide rates, or suicide prevention programs and gun restriction laws, which decrease suicide rates.

Globally, about 800,000 people die as a result of suicide every year, the World Health Organization said.

Latest figures show that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the USA in 2016, claiming the lives of almost 45,000 people over the year, reports the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "So better understanding the causes of suicide is a public health priority". According to estimates, which lead the authors of the article, the US and Mexico accounts for approximately seven percent of suicides in the world.

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Reidenberg said, "If in fact, suicide rates were truly corresponding to the temperature, would that suggest that we keep people who are suicidal in cooler climates or temperature-controlled settings and that would reduce the risk of their death?".

The correlation between temperature rise and the pattern researchers saw in tweets is nearly exactly the same as that between hot weather and suicide rates, Hsiang said.

It's still not that well understood, and there are many other risk factors beyond climate that are important for suicide risk.

What drives this mechanism of high suicide rates during warmer months is not certain yet but the study suggests that the mental well being of the person likely gets affected with high temperatures as the blood circulation to the brain may change when the body tries to adapt its temperature with the soaring hot weather.

Almost 45,000 people committed suicide in 2016, making it one of the three leading causes of death on the rise in the United States, along with Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.

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