Higher suicide rate linked to sunny days
It may seem counterintuitive but sunlight exposure may play a role in suicide rates, according to new a new study.
Previous research has found links between higher suicide rates and certain seasons—typically spring and winter—but the new study suggests that light may affect those rates in any given season.
In the study, scientists in Austria examined data on the amount of daily sunshine and nearly 70,000 suicides in Austria—in which there are four distinct seasons—between the years 1970 and 2010.
The researchers found a link between higher suicide rates and more hours of daily sunshine on the day of the suicide as well as more sunshine on up to 10 days prior, which seemed to facilitate suicide. The link between sunshine and suicide rate seemed to remain consistent for both “violent” suicide methods—such as hanging and shooting—and nonviolent methods, such as poisoning and was found to be stronger among men.
The results of the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, explain that the link between suicide rates and sunshine may exist because light interacts with chemicals in the brain, which can affect mood, impulsiveness and aggression.
The study’s findings are not significant enough to conclude that sunlight triggers higher suicide rates, but researchers said that future studies may point to whether the link holds true.