Research suggests air pollution and suicide link

A first of its kind large-scale study looking at US populations has identified a higher prevalence of suicide cases in areas of poor air quality.

Results published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looking at deaths between 2003 and 2010 has found that PM2.5 — fine particulate matter — levels of 1μg/m3 is associated with an almost 0.5% increase in daily suicides. 

don't give up. You are not alone, you matter signage on metal fence

Over the course of one month, PM2.5 levels at that measurement would lead to a 50% increase in suicide-related hospitalisations. This backs up previous studies, including research undertaken by Air Quality News, suggesting strong links between air pollution and mental health problems. 

Among other issues, PM2.5 is known to have properties that can increase levels of cytokines, the neurotransmitters produced in response to infection and inflammation which also have known ties to depression, and suicide. Ambient pollution is associated with brain inflammation, which has the ability to disrupt mood regulation. 

Understanding this, researchers at Washington DC’s American University conducted research to better understand the impact of air pollution on mood. This involved taking daily suicide count data for individual counties and cross referencing this with air quality data, wind direction used as an instrument for pollution exposure.

Local employment, population, weather, holidays, area, month and time of week were controlled within the work. In addition to increases in daily suicides and monthly hospitalisations, depressive symptoms were also heightened among the overall populations, according to self-reporting, at times when PM2.5 levels increased. 

Image: Dan Meyers


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Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
7 months ago

In June 2005, the late Dr Dick van Steenis and myself met Telford Coroner Michal Gwynne and showed him data at electoral ward showing elevated rates of infant mortality, childhood asthma and other parameters in electoral wards exposed to emissions from the Ironbridge Power Station and Dr van Steenis told him that the suicides would be mostly clustered in electoral wards with high rates of infant deaths. Mr Gwynne claimed that his suggestion was “rubbish” and that “everyone knew that suicides were random”.

I was allowed access to the register of suspicious deaths and saw that Dr van Steenis was correct.

“Sixth death heightens concern about village suicides”

I’m named in this article below of 11 April 2008 and Gnosall was in the news the previous year as seen in above:

“Mr Ryan also alleges there has been a “cluster” of approximately 100 suicides in south & east Telford and mid-Staffordshire that occurred within the downwind zone of Ironbridge power station.”

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