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Climate change linked to increase in Australia's suicide rates: QUT study
Date:2/19/2014

Researcher Xin Qi, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, studied the socioenvironmental drivers of suicide rates in Australia over 20 years and found variations in temperatures coupled with spikes in unemployment were significant risk factors for suicide.

His research, completed as part of his PhD, has helped to pinpoint who and when people might be at higher risk of suicide.

"What we found was that when the difference of the monthly average temperature in the current month compared with the previous one month increased by 1 degree, there was a 3 per cent increase in suicide in Brisbane and Sydney," Dr Qi said.

"For example, when looking at Sydney, if the temperature difference between September and October (2.55 degrees) was 1.5 degrees higher than that between August and September (1.05 degrees), then we saw a 4.5 per cent increase of suicide in October compared with September.

"Based on Australia's climate the high risk seasons for Brisbane and Sydney are spring and early summer, so it is therefore necessary to strengthen current monitoring systems on attempted suicide especially in areas with high unemployment rates.

"As global climate change and financial recession continue, it is vital to develop local interventions to reduce suicidal risk."

Dr Qi said when unemployment rates were added to the mix, suicide rates increased significantly.

"For example a 1 per cent increase in unemployment rate is associated with a 5 per cent risk of higher suicide in Brisbane and Perth," he said.

"In months with a higher unemployment rate, the temperature difference between adjacent months had more of a significant association with suicide in Brisbane compared with months with a low unemployment rate."

While Dr Qi's research did not reveal why this occurred, he said previous studies had shown temperature could be attributed to seasonal changes in physiological conditions of
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Contact: Sandra Hutchinson
s3.hutchinson@qut.edu.au
61-738-004-692
Queensland University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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