Monday, June 20, 2011

Could Stifling Summer Heat Be Increasing Suicide Risk?

Dawn Johnston/istockphoto
As American weather seems to be becoming more extreme, with dramatic snowstorms, countless tornadoes, and stifling heat, there is little doubt that it is affecting Americans' mental health. For example, the recent numerous tornadoes have left many homeless and psychologically traumatized.

But if air pollution is added to the weather mix, the mental health impact may be particularly toxic, an intriguing new study suggests. The scientists linked suicides not just with extreme temperatures and barometric pressure, but with air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. This study is both "fascinating" and troubling, Lise Van Susteren, M.D., a Washington, D.C. psychiatrist and environmental activist, told Psychiatric News. For more information, see Psychiatric News at


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