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Abrupt Link Between Hotter Temperature and Suicidal Rates
26 July 2018, 07:00 | Justin Tyler
Global warming to increase US suicides
Most areas from the US, Mexico, Western Europe, Northern Europe, China, and even Japan are experiencing temperatures significantly higher than usual.
The authors stress that rising temperature and climate change should not be viewed as direct motivations for suicide.
In all, projected temperature increases by 2050 due to climate change would also raise the number of suicides in the U.S.by 1.4 percent and in Mexico by 2.3 percent, Burke found.
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". Though they do not believe people are directly depressed due to warmer weather, heat appears to push the human mind to commit more self-harm. They calculate that temperature increases by 2050 could increase suicide rates by 1.4 percent in the USA and 2.3 percent in Mexico.
The study found climate change could lead to 9,000 to 44,000 additional suicides across the US and Mexico by 2050.
The role of heat, the authors said, may be just as significant as other, more well-known drivers of suicide, like economic hardship, which also pushes rates up, and suicide prevention programs and gun control legislation, which tend to push rates down.
Global climate change and related processes affect people's health directly, when, for example, extreme weather events lead to higher mortality (as it was in Moscow in 2010, when the heat and air pollution from wildfires caused at least 11 thousand premature deaths, mainly in elderly people).
Latest figures show that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S. 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", said Professor Burke. According to estimates, which lead the authors of the article, the USA and Mexico accounts for approximately seven percent of suicides in the world.
Medication, prescription costs and the economy are key parts of the equation, said Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a non-profit organization.
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?".
More research is needed to examine this link, but other studies provide some background to the link between human behavior and increased temperatures.
By contrasting temperature and suicide information from a huge number of U.S. regions and Mexican regions more than a very long while, the examination has uncovered solid proof that more sweltering climate expands suicide rates.
Burke said, "But our findings suggest that warming can have a surprisingly large impact on suicide risk, and this matters for both our understanding of mental health as well as for what we should expect as temperatures continue to warm".
The researchers said that suicide is the leading cause of death worldwide and it causes more deaths globally as compared to all forms of interpersonal and intergroup violence combined.
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