Could rising temperatures affect suicide rates?

Could rising temperatures affect suicide rates?

The summer months yield more than just nice weather. The rise in temperature is also associated with an increase in other worldwide issues.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the U.S. and Mexico.

Researchers claim warming climates, especially during late spring and summer months, have shown to be more detrimental time periods for suicide rates. When the weather felt one degree higher than the average temperature, suicide rates increased.

Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, and has increased in the U.S. by 30 percent since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is understood that the climate has an impact on health outcomes with proven higher violent crime rates,” says Dr. Kim Miiller, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Necessary research will have to be completed to better understand exactly how climate directly influences suicide rates, which could help the health community prevent an increase of deaths during warmer months.”

Although we cannot control climate conditions, as a community, we can work on preventing and understanding the warning signs of suicide. Dr. Miiller believes we can recognize depressive symptoms, verbal and nonverbal cues by knowing these indicators:

  • Increased substance abuse
  • Expressing feelings of burdening people
  • Discussing feeling hopeless or not having a purpose
  • Wanting to or looking for ways to kill oneself
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talk of pain, anxiety and abnormal reckless behavior
  • Withdrawing and isolating oneself
  • Mood swings, aggression and irritability

“There are many factors attributed to suicide risk, such as relationship issues, mental illness, substance abuse, unexpected crises, financial and health problems,” says Dr. Miiller. “There is no single cause for suicide, as it is often a combination of stressors and risk factors.”

You are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours, every day at 800-273-8255. There are confidential and free resources available for everyone. For immediate situations, call 911.

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About the Author

Allison Garetto
Allison Garetto

Allison Garetto, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a senior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she is pursuing a degree in communication and a minor in psychology. Allison is a vegetarian, artist and travel enthusiast.