Year: 2023 Source: Discover Mental Health. (2023). 3,10. SIEC No: 20230802
Popular culture and medical lore have long postulated a connection between full moon and exacerbations of psychiatric disorders. We wanted to empirically analyze the hypothesis that suicides are increased during the period around full  moons. We analyzed pre-COVID suicides from the Marion County Coroner’s Office (n = 776), and show that deaths by suicide are significantly increased during the week of the full moon (p = 0.037), with older individuals (age ≥ 55)  showing a stronger effect (p = 0.019). We also examined in our dataset which hour of the day (3–4 pm, p = 0.035), and which month of the year (September, p = 0.09) show the most deaths by suicide. We had blood samples on a subset  of the subjects (n = 45), which enabled us to look at possible molecular mechanisms. We tested a list of top blood biomarkers for suicidality (n = 154) from previous studies of ours 7, to assess which of them are predictive. The biomarkers  for suicidality that are predictive of death by suicide during full moon, peak hour of day, and peak month of year, respectively, compared to outside of those periods, appear to be enriched in circadian clock genes. For full moon it is  AHCYL2, ACSM3, AK2, and RBM3. For peak hour it is GSK3B, AK2, and PRKCB. For peak month it is TBL1XR1 and PRKCI. Half of these genes are modulated in expression by lithium and by valproate in opposite direction to suicidality,  and all of them are modulated by depression and alcohol in the same direction as suicidality. These data suggest that there are temporal effects on suicidality, possibly mediated by biological clocks, pointing to changes in  ambient light (timing and intensity) as a therapeutically addressable target to decrease suicidality, that can be coupled with psychiatric pharmacological and addiction treatment preventive interventions.