Year: 2023 Source: Translational Psychiatry. (2023). 13, 1-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-023-02434-1 SIEC No: 20231648

Decades of research have established seasonality effects on completed and attempted suicides, with rates increasing in spring. Little advancements have been made to explain this phenomenon, with most studies focusing almost exclusively on the number of suicide attempts and deaths. Using more than six years of data collected among a US, UK, and Canadian online community sample (Nā€‰>ā€‰10,000), we used newly developed Prophet forecasting and autoregressive-integrated moving average time-series models to examine the temporal dynamics of explicit and implicit self-harm cognitions. We created three groups (past suicide attempters; suicide ideation and/or non-suicidal self-injury; no previous self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or behaviors). We found a general increase of negative self-harm cognitions across the six years and seasonality effects for mood and desire to die, particularly among those who previously made a suicide attempt. Negative explicit self-harm cognitions peaked in winter (December), with implicit self-harm showing a lagged peak of two months (February). Moreover, daily negative self-harm cognitions consistently peaked around 4ā€“5 am, with implicit cognitions again showing a lagged effect (1-hour). Limitations include the volunteer sample not being representative and the cross-sectional nature of the data being unable to separate between-subject and within-subject structural trends in the time series. Our findings show that negative explicit and implicit cognitions precede the rise in suicidal behaviors in spring. We proposed a conceptual model of seasonal suicide risk that may offer fertile ground for theoretical advancements, including implications for clinical risk assessment and public policies regarding the availability of health services.