A study published this week in Nature Climate Change suggests that the hotter climatic temperatures could have unintended, unforeseen effects: a true increase in suicide rates.
This may surprise in the face of the popular The notion that the murky, ever-gray, frosty weather of winter is often associated with an increase in depression and suicide
But the data shows that the imagination is far from the truth , "Even in the 19th century, suicide rates were higher in late spring and early summer," said Marshall Burke, lecturer in Earth System Research at Stanford University.
This is strange and counterintuitive and inspired Burke and his colleagues are looking for literature and data to find an answer to a question that might look like a simple question: do the suicide rates increase in the warmer months?
Burke and his colleagues found that they did.
"What we wanted to do in this study is to isolate the role of temperature from other factors" ̵
"We examined every single death event and what happens to death certificates – where humans were when they died and what they died," Burke said. The team correlated mortality with temperature changes and then isolated the effects of temperature on those who died from suicide.
The results were clear: There was a clear, strong correlation between warmer temperatures and suicide risk, at least to the United States and Mexico. It was powerfully simple, but it raised more questions than answers. For example, Burke noted that the temperature-suicide correlation occurred independently of the socio-economic situation
"It affects both rich and poor people," Burke said. "It does not matter where you live."
This contradicts the general idea that the future effects of climate change will divide people and influence them differently based on wealth; More affluent people can afford housing, technology, health care and insurance to protect themselves from the destructive forces of the climate, while those who are poorer are less affected.
But when it comes to suicide and temperature, the economic impact is not so clear. And it's not just wealth; It seems that even with temperature differences, suicide risks increase with rising temperatures. "In hot regions [the thinking goes that]people are more used to heat and less affected," said Burke. "But it does not work that way, the effect on suicide risk is the same, whether you're in North Dakota or Texas."
"There's a widespread load of these temperature increases."
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Burke said that by the Climate change caused suicides by researchers only now to be understood.The suicides of farmers in India are an example of the clear correlation between temperature rise and suicide risk, though Burke warns that the flood of selbs assassinations of Indian farmers is economically linked; In the US, only one or two percent of people work in agriculture. "We see another mechanism here," Burke said. "Our data suggest that it is less likely to be an economic channel than something that affects other people."
But like does temperature affect suicide? Burke said the connection is unclear and that psychiatry and neuroscience are not a clear link.
But there is a theory that combines temperature with a biological pathway, namely serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is often involved in the regulation of human emotions, and that is often manipulated and controlled with antidepressants in those suffering from depression and depression Suicidal thoughts suffer. However, serotonin is also important to regulate body temperature – which means that suicide attempts in our future climate change could possibly apply to this single hormone.
"It's a plausible connection," Burke said. But there is no association in a causal path, and there is definitely a need for future research before such a connection can be made.
One thing that Burke repeatedly emphasized was that the study was only concerned with temperature itself – without socioeconomics and various health determinants – could play a role in suicide rates. "None of our results suggest that other factors are important, they are indeed quite important [in predicting suicide]," he said.
Their estimate is that between the United States and Mexico and given the estimated range of temperature increases of 1.1 and 2.9 degrees Celsius to 2100 Burke estimated it would give "tens of thousands of suicides."
"By the year 2050, there could be 20,000 suicides or suicides that would not otherwise have happened," he said.
Burke said the way forward is clear: Let's look at different countries and regions and see if the correlation is correct and how the temperature causes these suicidal peaks. "The climate change model we talk about generates winners and losers," he said. "Our results show that unfortunately it will generate more losers than winners."