Climate Change and Suicide: Is There a Link?


Research suggests there’s a strong connection between hot weather and higher suicide rates. With projected average temperature increases due to climate change, also called global warming, this correlation could lead to an additional 21,000 suicides in the United States and Mexico by 2050, according to a study conducted at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

The researcher first had to show evidence that warmer-than-normal temperatures increase suicide risk by adjusting for other “summertime” factors like increased daylight hours, unemployment rates, and others. To do so, they compared historical weather and suicide data from thousands of areas in the United States and Mexico over several decades and analyzed more than a half billion Twitter posts looking for words like "lonely," "trapped," or "suicidal" during unusually hot spells. They found that suicide rates and depressive language on social media increase in hot weather.

Then, the researchers used projections from global climate models and calculated that expected temperature increases by 2050 could raise suicide rates by 1.4 percent in the United States and 2.3 percent in Mexico. More research is needed as the possible reasons for this connection aren’t fully understood at this time.

Sourced from: Nature