Study: Warming Temperatures Linked to Higher Suicide Rates
Scientists have associated the climate with mental health problems before, but a new study out of California suggests a heat wave can bring about an increase in suicides. Clinical Psychologist at LSU Health New Orleans Dr. Michelle Moore weighs in on the research published in Nature Climate Change.
The research suggests climate change can lead to a higher suicide rate in the future, as they found that in the U.S., an increase of 1-degree Celsius in average monthly temperatures correlated to a 0.7-percent increase in the monthly suicide rate. Dr. Moore explains how temperature can alter our physiology.
“When it’s warmer outside, there is a physiological response in the body and it changes the way that your brain functions. It changes the way you regulate your emotions.”
Based on current warning projections, the study estimates by 2050 climate change may increase suicide rates 1.4 percent in the U.S. resulting in 14,000 more deaths. Dr. Moore says further research must be done to understand the extent of the mental implications of climate change.
“We are talking about global warming on a bigger scale. Does that mean mental health issues will increase over time? We need to be researching and really looking into it so we are prepared for the future.”