Global Warming on Mental Health
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It’s tough to talk about climate change without many of us becoming uncomfortable, angry, in denial, or scared. Yeah, it was hard to read the story of a woman from central America who explained that her family had to leave their home because food doesn’t grow there anymore. And what about Venice which flooded last year from rising waters.

Now we’re learning about an unexpected impact of global warming: suicide risk is up. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the annual suicide rate in the US has been rising by more than half in forty-nine states. This aligns with a new study that found a link between these numbers and warming trends.

The study looked at huge datasets including nearly fifty years of monthly temperature records in every US county. They compared the data to suicide numbers and more than four million available mental health records. They also factored in variables such as air conditioning, mental health counseling, health insurance, and substance abuse.

The numbers confirm that warmer temperatures correlate with worse mental health. That’s a point five percent increase in ER visits for mental health and point three five percent increase for every one-degree Fahrenheit rise. This association was true no matter where it was in the US.

Why this is happening could be a number of reasons including not being able to sleep well. It may be another inconvenient truth that hotter temperatures change more than the environment – it changes us!

For more information…

Temperature and mental health: Evidence from the spectrum of mental health outcomes
This paper characterizes the link between ambient temperatures and a broad set of mental health outcomes. We find that higher temperatures increase emergency department visits for mental illness, suicides, and self-reported days of poor mental health...

How does temperature affect mental health?
According to a recent study, there is an association between hotter temperatures and an increase both in the number of hospital visits for mental health reasons and in suicide rates...

Suicide rates rising across the U.S.
Comprehensive prevention goes beyond a focus on mental health concerns...

National Vital Statistics Reports
Deaths: Leading Causes for 2017...