STANFORD, Calif. (CBS Local) – A new study from Stanford University is claiming that suicide rates will continue to rise as the Earth gets hotter.
Researchers at the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford believe there is a link between warmer temperatures in the U.S. and Mexico and more suicides being reported in recent years.
“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death globally, and suicide rates in the U.S. have risen dramatically over the last 15 years,” Stanford’s Marshall Burke said in a press release.
Burke’s team cites the trend for higher suicide rates during warmer months as evidence of their conclusion. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, estimate that there could be an additional 21,000 suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050 due to the hotter climate.
“We’ve been studying the effects of warming on conflict and violence for years, finding that people fight more when it’s hot. Now we see that in addition to hurting others, some individuals hurt themselves,” study co-author Solomon Hsiang explained. “It appears that heat profoundly affects the human mind and how we decide to inflict harm.”
Scientists held back from saying that climate change was the direct cause of mental health issues and suicide, but added that the higher temperatures increase the risk for harmful behavior.
A recent report by the CDC revealed that suicides in the U.S. have risen by 30 percent over the last 20 years.