There’s a common belief that suicide rates peak in the winter months, as mental health suffers. Seasonal affective disorder and the prevalence of holiday-related depression are often assumed to be associated with high suicide rates, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates spike in the spring.

The increase of suicides in the spring is small but statistically significant and consistent. It’s also a global occurrence.

mental health

Why do suicides spike in springtime?

It seems illogical that more suicides would occur in the spring when the weather improves and the holidays are over, but a few reasons explain the increase. One reason is that bipolar disorder worsens this time of year. People with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk for suicide and with the warmer weather comes mood activation that often brings self-destructive behavior.

There is also evidence that the inflammation brought on by springtime allergies can cause or exacerbate depression. So while most feel energized and happy, springtime often has the opposite effect on some people and many that find themselves falling deeper into depression.

Although suicide doesn’t discriminate and affects every race, age, gender, and socioeconomic status, some factors increase people’s risk of becoming suicidal.

  • History of diagnosed mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder

  • A history of substance abuse

  • Living with a debilitating condition that results in long-term pain

  • Suffering a traumatic brain injury

  • Prolonged stressful life situations such as bullying or domestic abuse

  • The loss of a loved one

  • History of experiencing childhood trauma and abuse

  • Past attempts of suicide

  • Family history of suicide

Warning Signs

When someone is suicidal, some warning signs are more apparent than others. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Making statements about wanting to die.

  • Talking about feeling empty, worthless, or hopeless

  • Talking about having no reason to live anymore

  • Social withdrawal

  • Giving away personal and prized possessions

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

Often, warning signs of suicide are less noticeable. Unusual changes in behavior are often overlooked, especially in young adults going through puberty, when mood swings and irritability are common. Sometimes the changes are more drastic, such as a typically laid-back, easygoing person becoming aggressive. However, the opposite can also be true; someone who has been struggling with depression may all of a sudden seem calm and at peace. Changes in sleeping patterns and emotional dysregulation are also less conspicuous signs.

Many times people who are contemplating suicide exhibit physical pain as well as emotional distress. Headaches, digestive issues, or general aches and pains with no medical explanation can be warning signs in someone at higher risk.

One sign that seems obvious is gathering lethal means, such as a firearm, but many people access lethal means in secret, such as stockpiling pills. With access to these methods, the risk of suicide for someone struggling with mental health issues goes up exponentially.

The importance of seeking help

If you have a history of depression or feel you may be at risk, it may help to keep a journal of your feelings. It’s hard to remember all the feelings that we have throughout the day. However, keeping track of things like mood changes, sleep issues, changes in appetite, negative emotions, and instances of emotional distress can help discern patterns and determine whether or not to seek help. It could also help your primary care physician rule out any medical issues causing the symptoms.

There’s no shame in seeking help if you’re depressed, especially if you’ve had thoughts of suicide. You don’t have to go through this alone. At Serene Health, we offer a variety of behavioral health and mental health services. We also have appointments available seven days a week on our Telehealth platform if you or a loved one are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment today.