Why Do Suicide Rates Increase with Rise in Seasonal Temperatures?

Jul 2012

Over the last ten years, several studies have shown a link between weather and suicide risk and that, as the thermometer reading goes up, so does the likelihood that people with depression will take their own lives.

A team from London’s Institute of Psychiatry, which analyzed over 50,000 suicides in England and Wales from 1993 to 2003 found that suicidal tendencies rose when average daily temperatures went over 64° F, or 18° C.  The study, which appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry, also showed that each further temperature increase of just one degree centigrade, or a few in Fahrenheit, was associated with an almost 4% increase in suicides.

Renowned Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson cautions loved ones with family members who are in a mental health facility to be particularly watchful. Because psychiatric facility inpatient suicides can occur due to failed 15-minute monitoring level suicide watch, incorrect diagnosis or improper medical decisions to protect, hospitalized suicidal patients can be particularly vulnerable to seasonal depression, anxiety and suicide.

Dr. Gavin Lambert, Ph.D., author of a study conducted at the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia also discovered a season-suicide connection. That study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, examined suicide rates over a 10-year period and found a link between the length of the day and the number of suicides, and that more people do themselves in during warm weather months.

Dr. Lambert speculated that the seasonal changes in serotonin levels, which decrease during summer months, could put a suicidal person in danger of killing himself or herself until the brain has adjusted to the new chemical balance.

British researcher Dr. Lisa Page said the L.I.P. findings lead her to believe there are several possible reasons for the link between hot weather and suicide, including mood swings that sometimes come with high temperatures outside. “We felt overall that the most likely explanation was probably a psychological one,” she said, “where for some people you have an unusually high degree of irritability, aggression and impulsivity.”

Suicide can be prevented when consistent, competent care is provided. But the harsh truth is that each year, 36,035 people die by their own hand. On average one person every 14.6 minutes kills himself or herself in the United States. Every 35 seconds someone in the United States will attempt suicide. Every day about 6 inpatients will kill themselves in a hospital, usually by hanging. When natural occurrences such as summer weather increase the risk of suicide, it is yet more reason to choose mental health facilities and practitioners carefully, and to make sure they are well-versed in all suicide research findings.

If your loved one committed suicide or attempted suicide, particularly if it was a case of an inpatient who took her or his own life, seek the guidance of a reliable suicide attorney. Call Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors at 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form. We are compassionate and can help you pursue the justice you deserve.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson
2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300
Frisco, Texas 75034

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