Air Pollution and Suicide: A Connection?

Air pollution and suicide.

Did you know there's a connection?

According to a new study, a growing body of research links air pollution exposure to suicide, newswise.com reports..

Researchers found an increased risk of suicide associated with short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter among Salt Lake City residents who died by suicide between 2000 to 2010. In particular, men and Salt Lake City residents between 36 to 64 years of age experienced the highest risk of suicide following short-term air pollution exposure.

“We are not exactly sure why risk of suicide was higher in these two groups but suspect that it might be because these two groups were either exposed to higher levels of air pollution or that other additional factors make these two groups more susceptible to the effects of air pollution,” says author Amanda Bakian, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah.

The odds of completing suicide were 20 percent higher for people exposed to increased levels of nitrogen dioxide in the two to three days before their deaths, researchers found. Similarly, individuals exposed to high concentrations of fine particulate matter in the two to three days before a suicide experienced 5 percent higher odds of suicide. Research found the risk was highest during the spring and fall —not the winter months, a deviation from what you'd expect.

 Data from the records also revealed that men experienced a 25 percent increase in the odds of suicide following short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and a 6 percent increase in the odds of suicide following short-term exposure to fine particulate matter. In addition, the odds of suicide in people between the ages of 36 to 64 increased by 20 percent following short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and 7 percent following short-term exposure to fine particulate matter.

So what is this all about?   While the study doesn’t prove that air pollution causes someone to commit suicide, it suggests that higher levels of pollution might interact with other factors to increase the risk for suicide, according to scientists..


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