South Korea has among the highest rates of suicide in the world, and previous research suggests that suicide frequency increases with anomalously high temperatures, possibly as a result of increased sunshine. However, it is unclear whether this temperature–suicide association exists throughout the entire year. Using distributed lag nonlinear modeling, which effectively controls for nonlinear and delayed effects, we examine temperature–suicide associations for both a warm season (April–September) and a cool season (October–March) for three cities across South Korea: Seoul, Daegu, and Busan. We find consistent, statistically significant, mostly linear relationships between relative risk of suicide and daily temperature in the cool season but few associations in the warm season. This seasonal signal of statistically significant temperature–suicide associations only in the cool season exists among all age segments, but especially for those 35 and older, along with both males and females. We further use distributed lag nonlinear modeling to examine cloud cover–suicide associations and find few significant relationships. This result suggests that that high daily temperatures in the cool season, and not exposure to sun, are responsible for the strong temperature–suicide associations found in South Korea.
Weather, Climate, and Society
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Kalkstein, A. J., Belorid, M., Dixon, P. G., Kim, K. R., & Bremer, K. A. (2019). Seasonal Variations in Temperature–Suicide Associations across South Korea. Weather, Climate, and Society, 11(4), 731–739. https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-19-0019.1