How high altitudes could raise risk of depression, suicide
A new systematic review, now published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, found that people living in high-altitude areas of the United States, such as intermountain states, have higher-than-average rates of suicide and depression.
Researchers have found that suicide rates are increased in high-altitude states, such as Arizona.
The researchers, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, suggest that low atmospheric pressure at high altitudes may lower blood oxygen levels. This may affect mood and make people living at these altitudes more susceptible to suicidal thoughts, they explain.
Individuals are much more likely to think about, attempt, or complete suicide if they have major depressive disorder, and around 16 percent of people experience this mental health condition at some point in their lives.
Major depressive disorder occurs when someone has at least 2 weeks of low mood, self-esteem, and energy across most situations. Rates of major depressive disorder vary substantially from region to region, which could suggest that environmental factors play a role in some cases of major depressive disorder and suicide.
In the U.S., around 123 people take their own lives every day, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death nationwide.