Background Seasonal fluctuation in suicide has been observed in many populations. High temperature may contribute to this, but the effect of short-term fluctuations in temperature on suicide rates has not been studied.
Aims To assess the relationship between daily temperature and daily suicide counts in England and Wales between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2003 and to establish whether heatwaves are associated with increased mortality from suicide.
Method Time-series regression analysis was used to explore and quantify the relationship between daily suicide counts and daily temperature. The impact of two heatwaves on suicide was estimated.
Results No spring or summer peak in suicide was found. Above 18 ° C, each 1 °C increase in mean temperature was associated with a 3.8 and 5.0% rise in suicide and violent suicide respectively. Suicide increased by 46.9% during the 1995 heatwave, whereas no change was seen during the 2003 heat wave.
Conclusions There is increased risk of suicide during hot weather.
- © 2007 Royal College of Psychiatrists