Session 2: Solar, Planetary and Space Physics

Title:  Environmental and geomagnetic factors in relation to self-destructive ideation and behaviour
Author(s): J.D. Bergiannaki, C. Psarros, P. Th. Nastos, T. Paparigopoulos, A.G. Paliatsos, V.P. Tritakis, C.N. Stefanis

Besides the individual factors such as the reaction to conflicts, several exogenous factors environmental and social may exert a pathogenic influence on suicidal behavior, suicide attempts and complete suicide on  predisposed individuals. In the turn of the century many reports accord for the seasonality of suicides, which seems to have a bimodal distribution with a major peak around the spring-summer (April-May) and a second minor in autumn. On the other hand, the seasonal variation of environmental factors (daylight, sunlight duration, weather, temperature, air pressure, humidity, geomagnetism, solar activity, etc), of biological factors (melatonin, serotonin, serotonin precursors, etc) as also of sociological factors (ethnic events, major holidays, weekends etc) possibly influences the seasonal pattern of self-destructive behavior. Bimodal seasonal variation is also reported for biochemical parameters (L-tryptophan, serotonin, endorphin I fraction) that matches seasonal pattern in the prevalence of violent suicide in the total population and also in the incidence of the affective disorders. The aim of this study is to investigate the relation of environmental factors expressed by the Discomfort Index (DI) and geomagnetic factors expressed by the geomagnetic field Index DST in relation to suicidal behavior. The total number (4803) of patients recorded in the Ambulance of a Phychiatric Hospital (Eginition) throughout 1994 was used along with the records of 2750 patients of the year 1989. The Index DI is a function of dry and wet-bulb temperature. DST is probably one of the geomagnetic indices that expresses and monitors with the greatest accuracy the equatorial ring current variations. Our results show that there is a seasonal variation of suicidal behavior (Fourier analysis) with a major peak during summer (July) and a minor one during spring. A difference in the occurrence of the peaks was observed among genders. A relation of self-destructive behavior and the daily changes of the geomagnetic index DST was found. This was significant with a latency of three days. As reported in the literature, serotonin, which is involved in the presence of suicide, was found to be magnetosensitive with a latency of three days. The contextual influence of the above factors in suicidal behavior will be discussed.