Rising temperatures could increase suicide rates in U.S., Mexico – Study

Suicide rope used to illustrate the story.
Suicide rope used to illustrate the story.

Unmitigated climate change and temperature rise could lead to thousands of additional suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050, according to a new study.

Researchers from institutions in the U.S., Canada and Chile who analysed temperature and suicide data from multiple decades in thousands of U.S. counties and Mexican municipalities, revealed that climate change could prompt additional 9,000 to 40,000 suicides.

The study has found that suicide rates rise 0.7 per cent in the U.S. and 2.1 per cent in Mexico for a one degree Celsius increase in monthly average temperature.

One hypothesis is that high temperatures directly affect mental well-being, perhaps as a result of the side effects of thermoregulation.

In other words, blood flow patterns in the brain could change as our body works to maintain its temperature
within a certain range, according to the research.

To gain further insights into the linkage between temperature and mental health, researchers have also
analysed 600 million geotagged Twitter posts.

They found that each additional one degree Celsius in monthly average temperature increases the likelihood
of “depressive” language in tweets such as “lonely,” “trapped,” or “suicidal” by as much as 1.35 per cent.

The findings were published in the monthly journal Nature Climate Change.


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