Sun and rain are a part of spring and summer just as cold and snow are winter staples. In the winter, many people notice that the reduced sunlight influences their mental health, and research shows an increase in the rate of depression during this season. But little is reported about the seasonal affects on mental health in the warmer months.
Studies confirm that sunlight is an important factor in mental health. So one would assume that increased sunlight (in the spring and summer) results in lower rates of mental disorders and symptoms. Ironically, however the spring and summer months contain the highest suicide rates (Adjacic-Gross et al., 2007). Lambert et al. (2003) found that suicide rates peak in the spring and summer. And although the study was conducted in Australia, the findings are consistent between the western and southern hemispheres.
Implicated are the changes that may occur in people's lives during this time. The late summer when students return to school can be a particularly stressful time for youth and young adults and may influence the suicide rates we see (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2006). In light of these findings, it is important for mental health professionals and concerned individuals to pay attention to individuals' suicidal inclinations at all times of the year.
For more information about suicide in Canada, visit the Centre for Suicide Prevention web site or the Canadian Mental Health Association web site.
Ajdacic-Gross, V., Lauber, C., Sansossio, R., Bopp, M., Eich, D., Gostynski, F., & Rossler, W. (2007). Seasonal Association between weather conditions and suicide – evidences against a classic hypothesis. American Journal of Epidemiology, 165(5), 561-569.
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2006). Suicide statistics. Retrieved June 20, 2011 from http://www.ontario.cmha.ca/fact_sheets.asp?cID=3965
Lambert, G. Reid, C., Kaye, D., Jennings, G., & Esler, M. (2003). Increased suicide rate in the middle-aged and its association with hours of sunlight. American Psychiatric Association, 160, 793-795.