Silver Hill Hospital doctor: Heat linked to increased suicide rates
Suicide has risen to the 11th-leading cause of death in America in 2021, according to a recent study. Doctors say heat may have something to do with that.
Coming off one of the hottest months in history, doctors say climate change and the heat are becoming a problem for all of us - including those with mental health concerns.
A study in last month's Lancet Journal found that even a one-degree Celsius increase in temperature increased suicide rates. A local doctor says he believes some of this has to do with the medications that some of the patients are taking.
"They can interfere with sweating mechanisms, they can cause dehydration, which can increase blood levels of various drugs," says Silver Hill Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Mark Russ.
Russ says hot weather can affect any mental health problem. He says there can be changes in brain chemistry, and stress can increase psychiatric disorders.
"There may be a relationship between the increased temperature and people having trouble sleeping. We know that insomnia can be a trigger for just about any medical health problems," says Russ.
Russ says the suicide rate is going up and that seniors are at highest risk, but he says there has been an increase among young people too.
Doctors say they are also seeing more emergency room visits for heat related mental illness.