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Seasonal effects on suicide rates

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Research suggests that the prevalence of suicide is actually most frequent during late spring and early summer months/seasons,[1] despite the common belief that suicide rates peak during the cold and dark months of the winter season.[2]
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Myth: People are at Increased Risk for Suicide During the Winter Months

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United States National Research Studies Edit

Even with the media’s focus on suicides during the winter season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics report that suicide rates in the United States are, to contrary belief, lowest during the winter months and highest in the summer and springtime. In consonance with F. Stephen Bridges’s article “Seasonal Changes in Suicide in the United States, 1971 to 2000”, his findings assert that "A high incidence in early spring (April and May) and…also a low incidence in winter". Bridges's unique methodology was examined in three specific ways: analyzing the monthly distribution of suicides within a time from of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s; secondly, a Wikipedia:chi-square test was provided to demonstrate the exact evenness of the monthly averages; and finally a "harmonic time series model" was applied with six observable harmonic cycles within given year. Conforming to the study's results, the 1970's distributed a large incidence (p<.01) in its bimodal paradigm. Additionally, evidential data shows that "about 47% of the total variances can be explained by the seasonal components" within that given decade. In regards to the next decade (1980-1990), "The seasonal component of suicide incidence for the time period 1981 through 1990 is clearly significant and records about a 27.7% increase in seasonal contribution by comparison with the previous period". As for the concluding decade in the study (1990-2000), results signify comparable data because of the "the significant seasonal rhythm were explained in 63% of the total variation." [3].

Another study by French sociologist Émile Durkheim presents similar research results in refuting the myth that suicides occur more frequently during winter seasons/months. Insofar of his conclusive experimental findings, Durkheim reported that most suicides occurred in the spring, but not summer. In cultivating an explanation for this particular scrutiny, Durkheim sided with his sociological cognizance and digressed from the role of nature. From what Durkheim professes, most suicides took place in spring because "everything begins to awake; activity is resumed, relations spring up, interchanges increase. In other words, it is the density of human interactions, and not the environment that caused higher incidence of suicide in spring or summer." [4].

Furthermore, many researchers who have found a linked association between seasonality and suicide have discovered that suicides do peak during the spring or summer. [5], [6].

International Research Studies Edit

According to F. Stephen [3] a researcher on homicide victims and victims of homicide-suicide), recent research from industrialized countries such as: Wikipedia:Finland, Wikipedia:Sweden, Wikipedia:Australia and Wikipedia:New Zealand, and Wikipedia:England and Wikipedia:Wales has provided a relevant amount of information in light of a noticed pattern in the decrease of suicide seasonality over the past few decades.

Within the country of Wikipedia:Greece, research studies indicate that the seasonal variations of suicide mortality are “more frequent during the spring and summer months…but no regular annual rhythm”. Interestingly enough, a handful of researchers that conducted these meteorological studies stated that "the seasonal variation of suicide follows more closely the seasonal variation of sunshine rather than the corresponding variation of temperature". [7]

As for the tropical country of Wikipedia:Brazil in the Wikipedia:Southern Hemisphere, studies have deduced that "the peak number of suicides occurred in spring (November) in men and women of Wikipedia:Rio Grande do Sul state and in men of Wikipedia:Parana and Wikipedia:Santa Catarina states, and in early summer (January) for women of Parana´ state." [8] When analyzing Wikipedia:photoperiod, there have been very few scientific assessment studies that have focused on seasonal suicide variations within the southern hemisphere because most data has been of what is known about the seasonal variation in suicide rate originates from studies have been ordained in the northern hemisphere.

In conjunction with oversees research studies, a former member in the field of Preventive Medicine, Eleni Petridou, conducted a collaborative international study that involved twenty different countries. The documented outcome was an early summer peak in suicides. Upon hers and her research colleagues’ conclusion, “seasonal variation in suicide incidence could be explained by the increase in sunshine in summer months because of a relationship between sunshine, high temperatures and suicide rate.” [9].

In opposition to the corresponding results above, Australian researchers, J. Edwards and F. Whitlock, that studied the seasonal variations in accordance with suicidal rates found a “spring peak in the number of suicides committed in Wikipedia:Brisbane, Australia, but the results were not statistically significant…and also that Dublin reported that the incidence of suicide varied according to seasons in the northern hemisphere, but contrary results were found for the southern hemisphere.” [10].

Popular belief Edit

It seems intuitive that suicide would peak during the winter months. Indeed, it is easy to believe that the difficulty of enduring harsh meteorological climates, contracting viral diseases such as Wikipedia:pneumonia and Wikipedia:hypothermia, and the minimal amount of sunlight could lead to emotional states of helplessness and gradually ensue in suicidal behaviors. [11].

Moreover, some may believe that “holiday cheer amplifies loneliness and Wikipedia:hopelessness in people who have lost loved ones, or who have high expectations of renewed happiness during the holiday season, only to be disappointed.” [12]. Moreover, the general underlying conception holds that depressive moods-during cold and dark winter months-have a correlation with suicidal attempts, idealizations, and plans. As stated by Russell G. Foster and Leon Kreitzman in their book "Seasons of Life", the seasonality of death is primarily influenced by one’s living standards. Meteorological fluctuations have amounted in a steady decline in mortality rates from diseases “that had previously been most severe in the summer months, such as Wikipedia:dysentery, Wikipedia:gastroenteritis, Wikipedia:tuberculosis, and other infectious and parasitic diseases…resulting from poor socioeconomic progress resulting from increased prosperity and Wikipedia:social welfare.” [13]


  1. [Clauss-Ehlers, Caroline. (2010). Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology, Volume 2, 961]
  2. [Romer, Dan. (2001). Media Continue to Perpetuate Myth of Winter Holiday – Suicide Link. The Annenberg Public Policy Center]
  3. 3.0 3.1 [Bridges, F. S.; Yip, P. S. F.; Yang, K. C. T. (2005). Seasonal changes in suicide in the United States, 1971 to 2000. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 100, 920-924.]
  4. [Kposowa, Augustine J., D’Auria, Stephanie. (2010) Association of temporal factors and suicides in the United States, 2000–2004. Social Psychiatry Epidemiology, 45, 433-445.]
  5. [Kalediene R, Starkuviene S, Petrauskiene J. (2006). Seasonal patterns of suicides over the period of socio-economic transition in Lithuania. BMC Pub Health, 6, 40.]
  6. [Petridou E, Papadopoulos FC, Frangakis CE, Skalkidou A, Trichopoulos D. (2002). A role of sunshine in the triggering of suicide. Epidemiology 13, 106–109]
  7. [Bazas, T.; Jemos, J.; Stefanis, K.; et al. (1979). Incidence and Seasonal-Variation of Suicide Mortality in Greece. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 20, 15-20]
  8. [Benedito-Silva, Ana Amelia; Pires, Maria Laura Nogueira; Calil, Helena Maria. (2007). Seasonal variation of suicide in Brazil. Chronobiology International, 24, 727-737]
  9. [Petridou E, Papadopoulos FC, Frangakis CE, Skalkidou A, Trichopoulos D. (2002). A role of sunshine in the triggering of suicide. Epidemiology 13, 106–109]
  10. [Edwards, J.E., Whitlock, F.E. (1968). Suicide and attempted suicide in Brisbane. Med J Psychiatry, 1, 932–938.]
  11. [Deisenhammer, E. A. (2003). Weather and suicide: the present state of knowledge on the association of meteorological factors with suicidal behaviour. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 108, 402-409.]
  12. Depression Therapeutic Centers
  13. [Foster, Russel G., Kreitzman, Leon. (2009). Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive. Yale University Press – Science, 221.]

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