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Original article

Vol. 152 No. 0910 (2022)

Suicides and ambient temperature in Switzerland:  A nationwide time-series analysis

  • Séverine Bär
  • Marvin Bundo
  • Evan de Schrijver
  • Thomas J. Müller
  • Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30115


AIM OF THE STUDY: Previous literature suggests that ambient temperature may play a role in increasing the risk of suicide. Although in Switzerland suicides are an important cause of death, limited research exists on risk factors for suicidal behaviour, including ambient temperature. We aimed to assess the short-term association between ambient temperature and suicide risk in Switzerland between 1995 and 2016, and the differences by region, individual characteristics and method of suicide.

METHODS: We collected daily data on suicides and mean temperatures in each canton of Switzerland. We used a two-stage approach, consisting of a case time series analysis using conditional quasi-Poisson and distributed lag non-linear models followed by a multivariate meta-regression analysis. We conducted subgroup analyses by sex, age (<35, 35–65 and >65 years) and method of suicide (violent or nonviolent).

RESULTS: Between 1995 and 2016, there were a total of 24,067 suicides in Switzerland. Overall, we found a positive and non-linear temperature–suicide association in all regions. On average, the risk of suicide increased by 34% (1.34 relative risk [95% confidence interval: 1.19–1.52]) from the 10th to the 99th temperature percentile in Switzerland (lag period of 0–2 days). Indications of larger risks were mostly found in females, younger individuals (<35 years) and with nonviolent methods. Regional risks ranged from 24% (East region) to 55% (North-West region).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that increasing temperatures could be considered a risk factor for suicidal behaviour in Switzerland. Knowledge of the profile of people committing suicide could help us to understand the mechanisms behind this association and thus support policymakers in suicide prevention.


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