Year: 2016 Source: Environmental Health.(2016).15:90. DOI:10.1186/s12940-016-0177-1 SIEC No: 20160490

Preventing suicide is a global imperative. Although the effects of social and individual risk factors of suicide have been widely investigated, evidence of environmental effects of exposure to air pollution is scarce. We investigated the effects of ambient air pollution on suicide mortality in Guangzhou, China during 2003−2012.

A conditional logistic regression analysis with a time-stratified case-crossover design was performed to assess the effects of daily exposure to three standard air pollutants, including particulate matter less than 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), on suicide mortality, after adjusting for the confounding effects of daily mean temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure and sunshine duration. Further analyses were stratified by season, gender, age group, educational attainment and suicide type.

Between 2003 and 2012, there were a total of 1 550 registered suicide deaths in Guangzhou. A significant increase in suicide risk were associated with interquartile-range increases in the concentration of air pollutant, with an odds ratio of 1.13 (95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.01, 1.27) and 1.15 (95 % CI: 1.03, 1.28) for PM10 and NO2 at lag 02, and 1.12 (95 % CI: 1.02, 1.23) for SO2 at lag 01, respectively. The suicide risks related to air pollution for males and people with high education level were higher than for females and those with low education level, respectively. Significant air pollution effects were found on violent suicide mortality and in cool season but not on non-violent suicide mortality or in warm season.

Suicide risk was positively associated with ambient air pollution levels. This finding would provide important information for the health impact assessment of air pollution and for the development of effective strategies and interventions for the prevention of suicide.