People in occupational groups with easy access to means for suicide—like veterinarians, doctors, pharmacists, and police officers—are more at risk than others for taking their own lives, according to a new study. And that risk goes up as the weather begins to warm up.
While researchers from Oxford University and University Hospital in Gent, Belgium, haven’t found a reason behind the spike in springtime suicides, one theory suggests that the change of season following a period of prolonged darkness triggers an unknown neurochemical imbalance in the brain. Another theory states that seeing other people who appear to be happy may be hard for suicidal people to take.
The study, published in British medical journal The Lancet, found that gender plays a role, too. Men, doctors, and smokers all carry an elevated risk for suicide, but among medical professionals, female doctors are most at risk. About 90 percent of people who take their own lives are thought to have some form of psychiatric disorder. Depression increases the risk by 15 to 20 times. Additional factors that increase a person’s risk of suicide include childhood sexual abuse, natural disasters, and the death of celebrities.