We as natural beings swing to the rhythms of the rotations of the earth, sun, moon and many other stars and planets, galaxies and universes. Our hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters oscillate in response to fluctuations in heat and light, which also affect our patterns of behaviour.
A massive biological clock, modulated by our genes, controls the cycling of our brain chemicals and determines our response to the environment. It is no wonder that it has an impact on suicidal behavior too. Here are a few patterns that have been observed and documented:
1. Most suicides occur between 7 am and 4 pm. Possibly because most shocks and disappointments are met with at the busiest times of the day.
2. Surprisingly the lunar cycle does not have as much of an impact as one would expect, possibly due to modern artificial lighting.
3. There is a consistently higher rate of suicides on a Monday, when the new week proves to be no different from the days preceding it! Some call it the ‘broken promise’ effect.
4. The most robust finding is the seasonal variation of suicide, most of them taking place in the late spring or summer months. This effect is more obvious in rural communities. Possibly due to the lack of natural rhythms of light and heat in cities, the use of artificial lighting and central heating and interrupted sleep patterns.
5. Hospital admissions for depression have 2 broad peaks: spring and autumn.
6. Puberty coincides with the first significant rise in the rate of suicides.
7. Women are more prone to depression but less likely to end their lives. Autopsy studies show that a large majority of women commit suicide either in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle (14 days before the start of a period) or during menstruation.
“While the North blows, and starling flocks
By chattering on and on
Keep their spirits up in the mist,
And Spring’s here, Winter’s not gone.”