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Global warming is making more people kill themselves

25 July 2018

They see a link between temperature increases and increases in the suicide rate.

The study was published Monday in the Nature Climate Change, a peer-reviewed British journal. However, the researchers said that the new study provides evidence that in addition to hurting others, some people also hurt themselves. "To us, that implies that this is something fundamental about how humans respond and that appears hard to adapt to", he said.

As per the UN climate panel, the temperatures could increase by 2.5 ˚C in the USA and 2.1 ˚C in Mexico by the year 2050 which the researchers estimate will result in additional suicides between 9000 and 40,000 in the two nations over that time period. A recent study now warns that increase in temperatures could also adversely affect mental health.

The findings, which appear today in Nature Climate Change, are striking and sobering: An additional 21,000 people may die by suicide by 2050 in parts of the USA and Mexico due to rising temperatures.

The study compared suicide rates in abnormally hot months with those in months with average temperatures.

Marshall Burke, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor in earth system science at Stanford University, and his colleagues gathered decades of suicide and weather data from every county and municipality in the USA and Mexico. "But the thousands of additional suicides that are likely to occur as a result of unmitigated climate change are not just a number, they represent tragic losses for families across the country", said Burke, assistant professor of Earth system science in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford. That was true across income levels regardless of whether the temperature rose in January or July, in hot or cold climates.

Suicide rates rose in almost every U.S. state from 1999 to 2016, with the rate spiking by more than 30% in half of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June.

The World Health Organization says that heat stress, linked to climate change, is likely to cause 38,000 extra deaths a year worldwide between 2030 and 2050. They then looked at fluctuations in temperature over that period in various counties and municipalities, and discovered that the one degree rise led to a 0.7 percent increase in suicide in the USA, and 2.1 percent in Mexico. "So better understanding the causes of suicide is a public health priority", Burke said in a Stanford news release. But, many factors beyond temperature also vary seasonally - such as unemployment rates or the amount of daylight - and up to this point it has been hard to disentangle the role of temperature from other risk factors. Until now, it has been hard to disentangle the role of temperature and other risk factors.

If you wanted to study the relationship between temperature and suicide rates, you might think to compare cities with vastly different climates - Dallas and Nome, Alaska, for example.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

While people have recognized for centuries that suicides tend to peak during warmer months, many factors beyond temperature also vary seasonally, such as unemployment rates or the amount of daylight.

A study a year ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that "warming temperature trends over the last three decades have already been responsible for over 59,000 suicides throughout India".

If global warming is not capped by 2050, there could be at least 21,000 additional suicides in the two countries alone, the research warned.

"It's part of the social cost of climate change".

Global warming is making more people kill themselves