Suicide Rates Higher after Midnight

First Posted: Jun 03, 2014 11:25 PM EDT

A recent study shows that the risk of suicide may be greater during certain times of the day. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, they found that suicide risks typically peak after midnight.

"This appears to be the first data to suggest that circadian factors may contribute to suicidality and help explain why insomnia is also a risk factor for suicidal ideation and behavior," the study's lead investigator, Michael Perlis, PhD., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Penn Behavior Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said according to CBS Atlanta. "These results suggest that not only are nightmares and insomnia significant risk factors for suicidal ideation and behavior, but just being awake at night may in and of itself be a risk factor for suicide."

For the study, researchers examined data collected from the National Violent Death Reporting System and the American Time Use Survey. Sources gave information pertaining to the time of death along with the number of individuals awake each hour.

Researchers counted a total of 35,332 suicides and categorized the incidents into one-hour sections. Then they compared the total number of self-inflicted deaths that occurred to the proportion of people who were awake per hour.

Researchers discovered that the suicide rate per hour following midnight was around 10.27 percent. This rate increased to 16.27 percent from 2-3 a.m. As suicide rates were typically higher during later hours of the night, researchers determined that treating insomnia could potentially help curb the issue.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death within the nation, with close to 40,000 deaths per year due to this problem. With future studies, researchers hope to better understand how certain periods of day and night can alter the rate of these incidents.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Sleep

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