The impact of climate change is not only about torturing us physically, by summoning disasters all over the world. But recent study found that climate change can also mentally torture us. This mental health effect is often ignored, thus we have never realized about what climate change can trully bring us.
In fact, extreme weather events can affect our physical mental health significantly. Scientists said that the level of stress we receive from climate change equals to the impact of high-risk coping behavior like drinking alcohol.
Let alone the other mental effects such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress that those disaster can produce in one single blow. Don’t forget about climate-change-related impacts that will lead to lost of jobs, lost of homes, and lost of social and economical support. It will later lead to mental consequences to many people.
This is a serious problem, yet it is spread too small. In this article we are going to talk about climate -change-induced stress.
Climate change produce more frequent and more severe disasters, especially for those disasters related to weather events. The examples are large storm, flood, drought, and heat waves. Experiencing those disasters, combined with the feeling of loss, increases the stress and distress level into significant number.
Do you see more ‘bad’ people around recently? Do you feel people get angry faster nowadays? It might be the result of climate change. Climate change and global warming are making this earth warmer day by day.
Various abnormal temperature events happened, and study shows that abnormally hot temperature can be linked into higher suicide rate. It proves that climate change might have taken the lives of many people by affecting their mental health
“We take a specific location and we take a specific month, and we compare cooler versions of that month to hotter versions of that month, and we ask, ‘Are suicide rates different during those two months?,” said Marshall Burke, assistant professor at Department of Earth System Science Stanford University.
Burke participated in the study, whose result give the answer to those questions. “We indeed find that they are. We find a very consistent relationship between temperature increases and increases in suicide risk,” said Burke.
Don’t Do That
Suicide is a complex thing that can be the result of many physical and psychological factors. Mental health problem is said to be one of the biggest contributor in adding up the number of victims. Maybe you can start to see the connections here.
The stress from events related to climate change can affect your mental health, thus further making the stress-related suicide rate bigger. Burke and other scientists tried to prove this statement scientifically, and they succeeded.
“We find a very consistent relationship between temperature increases and increases in suicide risk. Suicide is a very complex phenomenon. It’s still not that well-understood, and there are many other risk factors beyond climate that are important for suicide risk,” said Burke.
The thing is, suicide contributes significantly to death rate in this world. In United States of America alone, this is the 10th biggest leading cause of death. It means every year about 45,000 people die because of suicide.
While globally, every year about 800,000 people die by suicide, with more than two-third of them coming from less wealthy environments. But economy is not the problem here, since this can also happen to world-class artists. It gives us serious concern about this matter because if we don’t destroy the nature like we did, the victims should have not reached that number.
How High Is Too High
So, we know that temperature rise as one of the consequences of global warming and climate change can lead to higher suicide rate. But how high the temperature is too high for us to keep our minds intact?
Scientists collected data about suicide rate in United States between 1968 to 2004 and Mexico between 1990 and 2010. They then compared the data with temperature and precipitation data from climate-mapping in both countries.
From those data, they found out that 1 degree Celsius increase of temperature monthly is enough to rise the suicide rate in both countries. USA came up with 0.68% increase, while Mexico came up with 2.1% increase.
From the data, the scientist tried to predict what will happen to the future of humanity. And in this case they came into a prediction that by 2050, climate change might take the lives of about 14,000 people in United States, while in Mexico the number is predicted to reach 7,400 people.
“Studies suggest that some components of brain chemistry, in particular certain neurotransmitters, are important in both mental health and in how the body regulates its internal temperature,” said Burke to CNN.
If you think that only adult and elder people whose mental health is affected by climate change, you are wrong. The stress can affect younger ones too, including your children. However, although it doesn’t directly lead to suicide, it comes in more various forms.
“Our own study of hospital admissions in Milwaukee found a relationship between warmer temperatures and ‘intentional self-harm,” said Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He also said that both of the studies done suggested that high temperature the result of climate change has its own biological effect on brain function, even in younger individuals. “These studies all point to the likelihood of negative mental health impacts due to climate change,” said Patz.
Those negative mental impacts may come in many forms for younger individuals. It can make them become more prone individuals and then get lost in substance abuse. “These experiences can also lead to substance abuse with long-lasting implications for individuals and families,” said Mona Sarfaty, executive director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.
Coming with this problem, Burke said that immediate change is needed before it is too late. “If we reduce future temperature increase, it doesn’t matter where you are, the U.S. or Mexico. You are going to benefit from that reduction,” he said.