• Austria's news in English

Why sunny days can lead to suicide

The Local · 11 Sep 2014, 12:41

Published: 11 Sep 2014 12:41 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Surprisingly, suicides increase in the spring, rather than in the winter. In a paper published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Society Psychiatry (JAMA Psychiatry), researchers argue that sunshine is linked to fatal self-harm, independent of the season.

They studied suicide data from Statistics Austria, from January 1970 to May 2010 alongside meteorological data for the same time period.

Of the 69,462 suicides registered in Austria during that 40-year period, they found that days with more suicides tended to be sunnier. And surprisingly, a run of sunny days often ended in tragedy.

“The amount of light approximately two weeks before a suicide event is positively correlated with suicide. The more light you have in a certain period, probably short-ranging, the more likely a person who is already at risk is to commit suicide,” said Dr Matthaeus Willeit, a professor at the Medical University of Vienna and the study’s senior author.

Sunlight exposure is related to serotonin levels in the brain. Whilst the 'mood' hormone serotonin generates happiness, it is also associated with impulsivity.

So someone already thinking about suicide may be triggered into an impulsive action by exposure to short bursts of sunlight and serotonin.

However, longer periods of sunshine seems to have a “protective effect” - elevating moods in a way that are sustainable for a longer time period.

Story continues below…

Willeit said that his team plans further research on the relationship between light and the serotonin system.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available