, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 1045-1053
Date: 26 Jan 2012

Atmospheric pressure and suicide attempts in Helsinki, Finland

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Abstract

The influence of weather on mood and mental health is commonly debated. Furthermore, studies concerning weather and suicidal behavior have given inconsistent results. Our aim was to see if daily weather changes associate with the number of suicide attempts in Finland. All suicide attempts treated in the hospitals in Helsinki, Finland, during two separate periods, 8 years apart, were included. Altogether, 3,945 suicide attempts were compared with daily weather parameters and analyzed with a Poisson regression. We found that daily atmospheric pressure correlated statistically significantly with the number of suicide attempts, and for men the correlation was negative. Taking into account the seasonal normal value during the period 1971–2000, daily temperature, global solar radiation and precipitation did not associate with the number of suicide attempts on a statistically significant level in our study. We concluded that daily atmospheric pressure may have an impact on suicidal behavior, especially on suicide attempts of men by violent methods (P < 0.001), and may explain the clustering of suicide attempts. Men seem to be more vulnerable to attempt suicide under low atmospheric pressure and women under high atmospheric pressure. We show only statistical correlations, which leaves the exact mechanisms of interaction between weather and suicidal behavior open. However, suicidal behavior should be assessed from the point of view of weather in addition to psychiatric and social aspects.