Global warming causes suicide

The Daily Caller reports on a July study that claims thousands more people will commit suicide in the coming decades due to man-made global warming. Quote.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday, the study found a one-degree increase in average monthly temperature correlated with suicide rate increases of 0.68 percent and 2.1 percent in the U.S. and Mexico, respectively.

The effect they found is extremely small, and in some cases, not statistically significant from zero. Still, the results were touted in media reports as evidence that increased temperatures exacerbate suicides.

The study predicts between 9,000 and 40,000 more people will off themselves by 2050 because of man-made warming ? based on an extreme warming scenario that experts increasingly call ?exceptionally unlikely.?

?So we take a specific location and we take a specific month, and we compare cooler versions of that month to hotter versions of that month, and we ask, ?Are suicide rates different during those two months?? We indeed find that they are,? lead author Marshall Burke told CNN.

?We find a very consistent relationship between temperature increases and increases in suicide risk,? said Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford University.

A lot of research has been done into suicide rates and temperature. A recent British study found that heatwaves exacerbated existing mental health problems in individuals, including suicide.

But Burke?s study only looked at average monthly temperature, which does not give an indication of heat waves or other phenomenon that could exacerbate suicides. Higher average temperatures in any given month could be from warmer nights, rather than scorching daytime temperatures. […]

Burke?s study averaged monthly temperature correlations across the U.S., which also obscured negative relationships between suicides and temperature increases. Nevada and South Carolina, for example, saw decreases in suicide rates as temperatures increased, but those decreases are obscured in the national average.

The study also claims that temperature increases correlated with a less than one percent increase in ?depressive? language on Twitter. However, those results were only significant in one coding, which then had to be adjusted for ?lagged effect.?End quote.

My first, gut,?reaction was probably not printable in a family blog like Whaleoil so I thought I would look at some numbers.

It is very easy to get the suicide rate per 100,000 for every State in the U.S.A. It is also very easy to get the average temperature for every U.S State.? Scatter graph the two and if there is a correlation it would show up pretty quickly.? Remember that even if there is a correlation, this does not imply causation.

So let’s look at my scatter graph with the data sorted by increasing average temperature.

Hmmm … highest suicides seem to be at the cold end, Alaska -3C and second highest suicide rate.? What about Hawaii?? Second hottest and a lowish suicide rate.

In fact, the trend line for suicides seems to go down as temperatures increase.

Clearly, the authors spent much longer on their research than my two quick Google searches and a spot of Excel graphing, but I still call B.S. on their conclusions.

People get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons ? SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.? SAD symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, sapping energy and making people depressed and moody.? Then the temperatures rise, summer comes and life is better.

But hey, grant money to be had if you throw glow ball warming into the mix, so why not?