Rising temperatures linked to increase in suicides
New study says global warning is likely to cause tens of thousands more suicides in coming decades
Scientists have found a link between rising global climate temperatures and an increase in suicide rates - and warn that the number of people taking their own lives may surge as the Earth continues to heat up.
Researchers at Stanford University, in California, compared decades of data on temperatures and suicide rates in the US and Mexico, and found a “strong correlation between warm weather and increased suicides”.
According to their analysis, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the rate of suicide rose by 0.7% in the US, and by 2.1% in Mexico, when the average monthly temperature rose by 1C.
The researchers also analysed more than half a billion Twitter posts and found that “depressive language increased during hot weather”, Reuters adds.
“The study projected that if global warming is not capped by 2050, there could be at least an additional 21,000 suicides in the two countries alone,” says the news site.
Latest figures show that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the US in 2016, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people over the year, reports the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Globally, there are almost 800,000 deaths from suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization.
In a statement about the new research, study author Marshall Burke, an economist at Stanford, said: “Suicide is a very complex phenomenon. It's still not that well understood, and there are many other risk factors beyond climate that are important for suicide risk.
“But our findings suggest that warming can have a surprisingly large impact on suicide risk, and this matters for both our understanding of mental health as well as for what we should expect as temperatures continue to warm.”