Everyone’s heard of “My Girl” by The Temptations and their famous lyric, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day”. Words that are associated with sunshine are ones that tend to be brighter–pun intended–for example, radiate and glow. In comparison, words that are associated with overcast days are more gloomy, for example dull and somber. It makes sense that rainy, murky days increase depression within individuals; however, if weather is a huge factor in suicidal tendencies, then why do a large amount of suicides occur in the springtime?
Hey, Temptations, maybe you should reconsider having sunshine on that cloudy day…
An important part before I continue is that the researchers removed the variation of the seasons from the data to get a more concise answer. In 2014, a study was published about the fact that sunshine and clear skies are motivating factors in numerous suicides. Lead researcher Dr. Mattaus Willeit and his colleagues collected all data on confirmed suicides between January 1st, 1970 until May 6th, 2010. 69,462 suicides were compared to the average duration of sunshine per day through 87 meteorological stations. The results were highly correlated meaning that there was a relationship between hours of sunshine a day and the number of suicides. However, this information supports day of suicide and 10 days prior. There was a negative correlation between the hours of sunshine and number of suicides if it was “14 to 60 days prior to the suicide”, according to the researchers of the study. In case anyone was wondering, they were measuring both violent (shooting or drowning) and nonviolent (poisoning) suicides, the effects were found in both cases.
In summary, the scientists concluded that a high amount of sunshine hours 10 days prior to day of suicide will aid a suicidal tendency; however, the amount of sunshine hours 14 to 60 days prior to day of suicide actually could potentially protect against suicide. I know that suicide is a very delicate topic to talk about but, I found this information very interesting and I wanted to share. I grew up in Florida and the suicidal rates there are little to those that are found in Washington. Naturally, I was baffled by the fact that being exposed to sunshine could assist a suicidal tendency, even if it’s a short window of 10 days prior.
Don’t let this blog post scare you. If you skimmed and missed what I said earlier, let me reiterate: Do not be afraid of being outside in the sun!! Vitamin D is a necessary component of your health (it helps you absorb calcium and promotes bone growth). The researchers reported that they found that more sunlight exposure (14 to 60 days prior) is linked with lower rates of suicide and that sunshine during this duration may protect against suicide. Being in the sun for long periods of time may help decrease suicidal tendencies but, then comes the question of skin cancer… that is another blog that will have to wait. Thanks for reading!
*Also, I wanted to make sure that I finished the blog correctly: If anyone is ever feeling unusually depressed or suicidal, do not hesitate to call the Suicide Hotline (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week): 1-800-643-5432. There’s always someone there for you!