Temperature, Seasonal Changes Associated With Suicide Attempts in Young People

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For male suicide attempts, the mean temperature during the 10 days before a suicide attempt was significantly associated with the suicide attempt after correction for seasonality.
For male suicide attempts, the mean temperature during the 10 days before a suicide attempt was significantly associated with the suicide attempt after correction for seasonality.

Suicide attempts were shown to increase in the summer and during periods of warmer temperatures in people age 15 to 25, according to the results of a recent study published in BMC Psychiatry.

In this retrospective study, researchers reviewed suicide attempt reports from 2131 patients (81.7% female) in Istanbul age 15 to 25 over a 1-year period. They averaged climatic indicators across Istanbul for each day of the year and also evaluated associations between suicide attempts and climatic factors.

Suicide attempts most frequently occurred in the summer (30.6%), followed by spring (25.4%), autumn (23.8%), and winter (20.1%). Chi-squared analysis revealed a significant seasonal change in suicide attempts (P <.0001).

Warmer mean temperatures were significantly associated with female suicide attempts, but after correction for seasonality effects the association did not remain significant. According to the study investigators, this suggests that temperature drives the seasonal effects of suicide in females.

In male suicide attempts, the mean temperature during the 10 days before a suicide attempt was significantly associated with the attempt after correction for seasonality. The investigators suggest that this may indicate a "direct effect of temperature in triggering male suicide attempts."

The study researchers concluded that "10-day periods of warmer temperatures than usual — whether they are measured against relatively low averages in winter or against relatively high averages in summer — tend to correlate with higher than average suicide attempt rates "among young male individuals, while the correlation for female suicide attempts may be depending on season."

Reference

Akkaya-Kalayci T, Vyssoki B, Winkler D, et al. The effect of seasonal changes and climatic factors on suicide attempts of young people. BMC Psychiatry. 2017;17(1):365.

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