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Open AccessArticle

Association of Weekly Suicide Rates with Temperature Anomalies in Two Different Climate Types

Department of Geosciences, Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 67601, USA
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada
Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(11), 11627-11644;
Received: 14 August 2014 / Revised: 27 October 2014 / Accepted: 7 November 2014 / Published: 13 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Risks and Responses)
Annual suicide deaths outnumber the total deaths from homicide and war combined. Suicide is a complex behavioral endpoint, and a simple cause-and-effect model seems highly unlikely, but relationships with weather could yield important insight into the biopsychosocial mechanisms involved in suicide deaths. This study has been designed to test for a relationship between air temperature and suicide frequency that is consistent enough to offer some predictive abilities. Weekly suicide death totals and anomalies from Toronto, Ontario, Canada (1986–2009) and Jackson, Mississippi, USA (1980–2006) are analyzed for relationships by using temperature anomaly data and a distributed lag nonlinear model. For both analysis methods, anomalously cool weeks show low probabilities of experiencing high-end suicide totals while warmer weeks are more likely to experience high-end suicide totals. This result is consistent for Toronto and Jackson. Weekly suicide totals demonstrate a sufficient association with temperature anomalies to allow some prediction of weeks with or without increased suicide frequency. While this finding alone is unlikely to have immediate clinical implications, these results are an important step toward clarifying the biopsychosocial mechanisms of suicidal behavior through a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between temperature and suicide. View Full-Text
Keywords: suicide; climate; meteorology; Canada; Mississippi; temperature; weather suicide; climate; meteorology; Canada; Mississippi; temperature; weather
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Dixon, P.G.; Sinyor, M.; Schaffer, A.; Levitt, A.; Haney, C.R.; Ellis, K.N.; Sheridan, S.C. Association of Weekly Suicide Rates with Temperature Anomalies in Two Different Climate Types. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 11627-11644.

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