Climate impact on suicide rates in Finland from 1971 to 2003

  • Reija Ruuhela
  • Laura Hiltunen
  • Ari Venäläinen
  • Pentti Pirinen
  • Timo Partonen
Original Paper


Seasonal patterns of death from suicide are well-documented and have been attributed to climatic factors such as solar radiation and ambient temperature. However, studies on the impact of weather and climate on suicide are not consistent, and conflicting data have been reported. In this study, we performed a correlation analysis between nationwide suicide rates and weather variables in Finland during the period 1971–2003. The weather parameters studied were global solar radiation, temperature and precipitation, and a range of time spans from 1 month to 1 year were used in order to elucidate the dose-response relationship, if any, between weather variables and suicide. Single and multiple linear regression models show weak associations using 1-month and 3-month time spans, but robust associations using a 12-month time span. Cumulative global solar radiation had the best explanatory power, while average temperature and cumulative precipitation had only a minor impact on suicide rates. Our results demonstrate that winters with low global radiation may increase the risk of suicide. The best correlation found was for the 5-month period from November to March; the inter-annual variability in the cumulative global radiation for that period explained 40 % of the variation in the male suicide rate and 14 % of the variation in the female suicide rate, both at a statistically significant level. Long-term variations in global radiation may also explain, in part, the observed increasing trend in the suicide rate until 1990 and the decreasing trend since then in Finland.


Climate impact Global solar radiation Season Suicide Weather impact 



This study was supported in part by the grants #201097 and #210262 (to T.P.) from the Academy of Finland.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reija Ruuhela
    • 1
  • Laura Hiltunen
    • 2
  • Ari Venäläinen
    • 1
  • Pentti Pirinen
    • 1
  • Timo Partonen
    • 2
  1. 1.Climate Change ResearchFinnish Meteorological InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.National Public Health InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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