A new study out of Stanford University examines the relationship between suicide rates and rising temperatures due to climate change in both the U.S. and Mexico. The results are startling.
If temperatures continue to rise at their current rates, we could see an additional 9–40 thousand suicides in both countries combined by the year 2050.
For every increase of 1° Celsius, the U.S. can expect a 0.7 % increase in suicides. In Mexico, that rate jumps to 2.1%.
The study also looks at the connection between “depressive language” in more than 600 million social media posts and warmer temperatures. In addition, the study found “mental well-being deteriorates” during instances warmer weather.
Both suicide and climate change weigh heavily on peoples’ minds and spirits. Since 1999, more than half the 50 states have seen suicide rates jump by more than 30%. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates a suicide rate increase of 35.3% in Massachusetts between 1999 and 2016—the national average during this time was 25.4%. In June, noted celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain brought suicide back to the forefront of national discussion when they tragically took their own lives.
And while some people and politicians continue to debate the cause of climate change, there’s no denying its effect on Massachusetts and the country at large. Data analyzed by the Northeast Regional Climate Center between 1895 and 2016 shows the state’s average temperature rose from 45.9° Fahrenheit to 50.3°. In 2012, the state average was 51.4°. As a consequence, drought (low stream flows and dry soil) is a major concern for the Northeast region.
Neither suicide nor temperature rates show signs of reversing.
But what exactly is the cause of the link between the two? There could be multiple.
According to WBUR, a study of suicide among farmers in India attributed the loss of crops to rising temperatures, resulting in financial hardships.
There’s also a physiological element at play. Parts of the brain that deal with emotion are also used to deal with heat.
In the meantime, there’s plenty we can do to reduce suicide. Gándara’s outpatient clinic providers psychosocial assessment, psychiatric, and psychological evaluations; medication management; and therapy with the specific needs of its community members. Gándara’s services and assessments are delivered in a linguistically and culturally sensitive way to adults, children, couples, and families.
In addition, consider the following preventative measures you can take if you think someone is having or showing suicidal tendencies:
- Walk-ins are welcome at Gándara’s outpatient clinic
- Location: 2155 Main Street Springfield, MA 01104
- Contact: Wanda Tosado, firstname.lastname@example.org, (413) 736-0395 x702
- Warning signs can include feelings of isolation, of being trapped, or of hopelessness, so it’s important that people reach out and ask others if they’re experiencing feelings of suicide.
- Keep people safe by reducing their access to dangerous substances and providing support resources.
- Be there for them, listen to them, connect them with help, and follow up with them.
- Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.