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How summer affects suicide rates

woman holding flower next to flower bushes with palm trees in background

There is a common belief that suicide occurs most often in the cold months, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holidays. This is actually a misconception, however, as suicide rates often increase during the spring and summer. Since 2002, Centerstone has recorded the number of suicide deaths occurring each month, and the summer months have routinely seen the most suicides, with July being highest.

Why summer?

While it is easy to see the data and observe that suicide rates increase in the summer, figuring out the cause is not simple. There are no definitive seasonal causes of suicidal ideation and action. However, there are some consistent causes seen across many studies.

The warm weather and increased sunshine could contribute to increased energy needed to act on suicidal thoughts for those who experience them. Megan Williams, Director of Suicide Prevention at Centerstone, says, “Warm weather also often means that people are more active and participating in more outdoor activities. This can cause those suffering from depression, anxiety and/or suicidal ideation to become more depressed seeing others enjoying themselves.” This, coupled with an increase in energy, could contribute to higher suicide deaths in spring and summer.

There are other aspects of summer, such as seasonal socioeconomic factors, seasonal allergies and more that can contribute to suicidal ideation and action.

Tips for prevention

Fortunately, there are ways you can help prevent suicide in others by being attentive and showing your support.

  • If someone you know who had been demonstrating depressive mood has a sudden change in attitude and appears more cheerful, it could be a sign that they have decided to act on suicidal ideation. The same applies if someone suddenly thanks you for being there for them, as they could be “saying goodbye.” These behaviors do not always have to mean a person is planning suicidal action, but they can be signs to watch for.
  • If you know someone who has expressed suicidal ideation to you in the past, support them in their care. If they are receiving mental health care, walk with them through their treatment. Partner with them, helping them establish their safety plan for any potential crises. Be someone that they can rely on when they need help.
  • Check in on them. Send a caring text, call or email to someone you may be worried about. A simple, “I was just thinking about you and wanted to say hello,” could go a long way.

If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal ideation, Centerstone is here to help. Call us at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit centerstone.org/connect-with-us/ to get connected with care.

 

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