PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Clearing the air reduces suicide rates

Clearing the air reduces suicide rates
2024-02-28
(Press-News.org) (Santa Barbara, Calif.) — Researchers in the United States and China have discovered a curious link between air pollution and suicide rates that prompts us to reconsider how to approach this issue. China’s efforts to reduce air pollution have prevented 46,000 suicide deaths in the country over just five years, the researchers estimate. The team used weather conditions to tease apart confounding factors affecting pollution and suicide rates, arriving at what they consider to be a truly causal connection. The results, published in Nature Sustainability, unearth air quality as a key factor influencing mental health.

Issues like air pollution are often framed as a physical health problem leading to a spectrum of acute and chronic illnesses such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. But co-lead author Tamma Carleton, an assistant professor at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, knows these environmental factors can take a toll on mental health as well. She’s previously studied the effect of temperature on suicide rates in India, finding that excessive heat drives those rates up. So she was curious when she noticed the rate in China dropping far faster than its decline in the rest of the world. In 2000, the country’s per-capita suicide rate was higher than global average; two decades later it has fallen below that average, which itself is declining. 

At the same time, air pollution levels were plummeting. “It’s very clear that the war on pollution in the last seven to eight years has led to unprecedented declines in pollution at a speed that we really haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Carleton. Perhaps these two phenomena were related, Carleton thought.

Carleton and co-lead author Peng Zhang, a former UCSB doctoral student, teamed up with researchers in Xanghai and Beijing to examine the effects of China’s recent crackdown on air pollution on suicide rates across the country. They gathered demographic data from 2013 through 2017 from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and meteorological data from the China Meteorological Data Service Center.

The team faced a tricky task.

“One of the bigger challenges with prior work on this problem is that air pollution is correlated with a lot of things,” said Carleton. For instance, economic activity, commuting patterns, even industrial output correlate with pollution. And these activities can also affect suicide rates. “Our goal was to isolate just the role of pollution on suicide as opposed to all the other things that might be correlated with air pollution.”

To this aim, they took advantage of an atmospheric condition called an inversion, where warm air traps a layer of cold air beneath it like a lid on a pot. This can concentrate air pollution near the surface, leading to days with higher pollution levels that aren’t correlated with human activity. This relatively random phenomenon enabled Carleton, Zhang and their co-authors to isolate the effects of air pollution on suicide rates. By decoupling pollution levels from human activity — which influences human behavior — the authors believe they’ve truly identified a causal effect.

The team compared suicide numbers across 600 counties between weeks with inversions and those with more typical weather, running the data through a statistical model. “Suicide rates increase substantially when air pollution rises,” the authors found. The effect was particularly strong for elderly people, with older women 2.5 times more vulnerable than other groups.

The authors aren’t certain why older women are especially vulnerable to this effect, though it may be partly cultural. Previous research suggests that most suicides by women in China are driven by acute crises. So if pollution has an acute effect on mental health, it could disproportionately impact older women.

And the phenomenon does appear to happen relatively quickly. Rates increase within the first week of exposure, and then abruptly decline once conditions improve. This suggests that pollution may have a direct neurologic effect, rather than creating chronic health issues that drive suicide rates up later on. Indeed, there is growing evidence that particulate pollution affects neurochemistry.

Pollution is not the only environmental factor influencing suicide rates, but Carleton said it packs a punch. “Thirty years of warming in India led to about the same magnitude of suicide effects as about five years of air pollution control in China,” she explained.

“We often think about suicide and mental health as a problem to be understood and solved at an individual level,” she continued. “This result points to the important role of public policy, of environmental policy, in mitigating mental health and suicide crises outside of individual-level intervention.”

She hopes the findings can reframe how society approaches suicide prevention. “Public policy about air pollution — something you can’t control, what’s outside your window — is affecting the likelihood that you take your own life. And I think that puts a different lens on the solutions we should be thinking about,” Carleton said. “It’s important that public health officials also know this as our climate gets warmer, and as pollution increases in many developing countries.”

Carleton plans to take a closer look at suicide rates in other Southeast Asian nations. Most suicide research has been conducted in the U.S. and Europe, she explained. It’s less clear what drives suicide in the developing world, which is also where we’re seeing the most rapid environmental change.

Of course, pollution is not the only factor that can lead a person to end their life. “About 10% of the overall decline over these past five years can be attributed to particulate pollution,” Carleton said. “That’s important, but it also leaves 90% unexplained by pollution.”

There are many reasons to control pollution around the world, and now suicide can be added to the conversation. China’s aggressive, successful policies achieved dramatic results in a short timeframe, serving as a potential model for other countries struggling with pollution and helping to reframe discussion about suicide in the modern world.

END

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Clearing the air reduces suicide rates Clearing the air reduces suicide rates 2 Clearing the air reduces suicide rates 3

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Efficient lithium-air battery under development to speed electrification of vehicles

2024-02-28
By Beth Miller With the U.S. government’s goal to reduce emissions from transportation as part of a net-zero climate goal by 2050, efficient and reliable batteries are a necessity. A collaborative team of researchers led by the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis is working toward that goal by developing an energy storage system that would have a much higher energy density than existing systems. With $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Xianglin Li, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, will lead a multi-institutional ...

80 mph speed record for glacier fracture helps reveal the physics of ice sheet collapse

80 mph speed record for glacier fracture helps reveal the physics of ice sheet collapse
2024-02-28
There’s enough water frozen in Greenland and Antarctic glaciers that if they melted, global seas would rise by many feet. What will happen to these glaciers over the coming decades is the biggest unknown in the future of rising seas, partly because glacier fracture physics is not yet fully understood. A critical question is how warmer oceans might cause glaciers to break apart more quickly. University of Washington researchers have demonstrated the fastest-known large-scale breakage along an Antarctic ice shelf. The study, recently published in AGU Advances, shows that a 6.5-mile (10.5 kilometer) crack formed in 2012 on Pine Island Glacier — a retreating ice shelf that ...

Study unlocks nanoscale secrets for designing next-generation solar cells

2024-02-28
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Perovskites, a broad class of compounds with a particular kind of crystal structure, have long been seen as a promising alternative or supplement to today’s silicon or cadmium telluride solar panels. They could be far more lightweight and inexpensive, and could be coated onto virtually any substrate, including paper or flexible plastic that could be rolled up for easy transport. In their efficiency at converting sunlight to electricity, perovskites are becoming comparable to silicon, whose manufacture still requires long, complex, and ...

Scientists discover 18 new species of gut microbes in search for origins of antibiotic resistance

Scientists discover 18 new species of gut microbes in search for origins of antibiotic resistance
2024-02-28
Scientists from Mass Eye and Ear and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard found 18 novel species of a type of bacteria called enterococci, which are gut microbes found in most land animals. Enterococcus type bacteria are among the leading causes of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide and 60 species had previously been identified. Understanding origins of antibiotic-resistant bacteria could offer insight into mechanisms of how drug-resistant, hospital-associated infections take root. Antibiotic-resistant infection is projected to catch up to cancer as the leading ...

For people with tough-to-treat epilepsy, seizure dogs may reduce seizures

2024-02-28
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 P.M. ET, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2024 MINNEAPOLIS –  For people with drug-resistant epilepsy, having a dog companion trained in  detecting seizures and other epilepsy-related tasks may reduce the amount of seizures they have, according to new research published in the February 28, 2024, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. For the study, researchers looked at adults with severe epilepsy who have been unable to find effective treatment to reduce seizures. “Despite the development of numerous anti-seizure medications over the past 15 years, up to 30% of people ...

For young people, irregular meals, e-cigarette use linked to frequent headaches

2024-02-28
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 P.M. ET, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2024 MINNEAPOLIS – For children and teens, irregular meals such as skipped breakfasts are linked to an increased risk of frequent headaches, according to a new study published in the February 28, 2024, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study also found that for those ages 12 to 17, substance use and exposure, specifically electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), were associated with frequent headaches. For the study, frequent headaches were defined as occurring more than once per week. “It ...

New study finds link between health care disparities and stroke treatment

2024-02-28
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 P.M. ET, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2024 MINNEAPOLIS – For people with stroke, social factors such as education, neighborhood and employment, may be linked to whether they receive treatment with clot-busting drugs according to a preliminary study released today, February 28, 2024, that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 76th Annual Meeting taking place April 13–18, 2024, in person in Denver and online. The study looked at people with ischemic stroke, which ...

Prognostic model development and molecular subtypes identification in bladder urothelial cancer

Prognostic model development and molecular subtypes identification in bladder urothelial cancer
2024-02-28
“Our study introduces an oxidative stress-based prognostic model for bladder cancer, offering insights into personalized therapy.” BUFFALO, NY- February 28, 2024 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) Volume 16, Issue 3, entitled, “Prognostic model development and molecular subtypes identification in bladder urothelial cancer by oxidative stress signatures.” Mounting studies indicate that oxidative stress (OS) significantly ...

Study proposes streamlined approach to developing cancer drugs

Study proposes streamlined approach to developing cancer drugs
2024-02-28
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Drug discovery can be a frustrating process of trial and error. Scientists using fragment-based drug discovery link fragments of different molecules together to create a more potent drug but may not know whether a compound works until millions of dollars in research and development have already been spent. New University at Buffalo research may offer a more streamlined approach, allowing drug makers to determine the viability of a fragment-based design earlier in the process.  While developing a fragment-based drug to treat lung cancer, a team co-led by UB found that where they linked fragments together had a large effect on potency. “Despite ...

New study finds high-dose inhaled nitric oxide decreases the risk of death among critically ill Black patients with COVID-19

2024-02-28
In a first-of-its-kind study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, physician-scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine discovered that high-dose inhaled nitric oxide therapy may improve oxygenation and reduce the risk of mortality among critically ill Black patients with COVID-19. Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, is a condition that most commonly occurs in the setting of a lung infection such as COVID-19. “In ARDS, the barrier between the blood vessels and air sacs in the lungs is disrupted leading to the accumulation of fluid ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

It takes two to TANGO: New strategy to tackle fibrosis and scarring

Researchers aim to analyze pangenomes using quantum computing

Ready and vigilant: immune cells on standby

Securing competitiveness of energy-intensive industries through relocation: The pulling power of renewables

CAR T cell therapy targeting HER2 antigen shows promise against advanced sarcoma in phase I trial

Social change may explain decline in genetic diversity of the Y chromosome at the end of the Neolithic period

Aston University research finds that social media can be used to increase fruit and vegetable intake in young people

A vaccine to fight antibiotic resistance

European Hormone Day 2024: Endocrine community unites to raise public awareness and push for policy action on hormone health

Good heart health in middle age may preserve brain function among Black women as they age

The negative effects of racism impact sleep in adolescents

Study uses wearable devices to examine 3- to 6-year-olds’ impulsivity, inattentiveness

Will future hurricanes compromise New England forests’ ability to store and sequester carbon?

Longest study to date assesses cognitive impairment over time in adults with essential tremor

Does a woman’s heart health affect cognition in midlife?

Unveiling the mysteries of cell division in embryos with timelapse photography

Survey finds loneliness epidemic runs deep among parents

Researchers develop high-energy-density aqueous battery based on halogen multi-electron transfer

Towards sustainable food systems: global initiatives and innovations

Coral identified as oldest bioluminescent organism, suggesting a new model of ancient ecology

SRI chosen by DARPA to develop next-generation computational design of metallic parts and intelligent testing of alloys

NJIT engineers muffle invading pathogens with a 'molecular mask'

Perinatal transmission of HIV can lead to cognitive deficits

The consumption of certain food additive emulsifiers could be associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes

New cancer research made possible as Surrey scientists study lipids cell by cell 

Bioluminescence first evolved in animals at least 540 million years ago

Squids’ birthday influences mating

Star bars show Universe’s early galaxies evolved much faster than previously thought

Critical minerals recovery from electronic waste

The move by Apple Memories to block potentially upsetting content illustrates Big Tech’s reach and limits, writes Chrys Vilvang

[Press-News.org] Clearing the air reduces suicide rates