Season, weather, and suicide: Further evidence for ecological complexity

Fhionna R. Moore, Martin Bell, Mairi Macleod, Eleanor Smith, Joanna Beaumont, Linda Graham, Trevor A. Harley

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Abstract

Background: Seasonality in suicide is reported worldwide, and peaks in late spring. Despite the potential connection to the weather, associations between meteorological variables and suicide does not explain seasonality. Studies testing for seasonality while controlling for the weather show patterns that are more complex than a straightforward link between spring-like weather and suicide.

Methods: We tested whether seasonality in suicide was due to meteorological variation (hours of sunshine, rainfall, or temperature) in a novel population (Scotland; 2003 - 2013). We also sought to further explore the ecological complexity demonstrated in previous work by testing associations at a single location (Tay Road Bridge; 1968 - 2017).

Results: We found peaks in suicidal behavior in June at the bridge, but no seasonality for Scotland as a whole. Seasonality was reduced when we controlled for maximum temperature and hours of sunshine. We found patterns to be dependent upon sex, with stronger seasonal and meteorological effects amongst men.

Limitations: Our study was exploratory and relies on population-level data.

Conclusions: Seasonal and meteorological effects on suicide are dependent upon local and individual context, with significant effects apparent at the Tay Road Bridge and not across Scotland as a whole. Men may be more sensitive to season and weather. In order to determine whether seasonality in suicide is due to meteorological variation, future research should test patterns in small geographical units, in men and women, and for different suicide methods, and seek to identify the social and physical factors which predict variation in patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalNeurology, Psychiatry and Brain Research
Volume30
Early online date10 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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Keywords

  • Season
  • Suicide
  • Weather
  • Meteorology
  • Gender
  • Self-harm

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