The disturbing relationship between pollution and suicides

A study explained that people who live in places with high levels of air pollution are more exposed to the risk of depression and suicide

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The disturbing relationship between pollution and suicides

According to the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the review conducted by researchers at University College London, said that people who live in places with high levels of air pollution are more exposed to the risk of depression and suicide.

The study examined study data from 16 countries and concluded that reducing global average exposure to fine particulate air pollution could result in a 15% reduction in the risk of depression worldwide. A person who spends just six months in an area with double the limit for fine particulate matter set by the World Health Organization of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air would have a 10% greater chance of developing depression than those who live in a place that respects that limit.

The disturbing relationship between pollution and suicides

The researchers found that a short-term increase in exposure to PM10 particulate matter could increase the risk of suicide. If PM10 levels increase by 10 µg/m3 for three days, the risk of suicide increases by 2%, they explain.

The fine particles are able to reach the brain both through the bloodstream and through the respiratory system. Furthermore, air pollution causes damage to nerve cells and increases the production of stress hormones, which directly affects our mental health.

This means that reducing air pollution could substantially reduce depression around the world. Research has highlighted a strong link between polluted air, depression and suicide. This thesis is also supported by more recent research, including studies linking air pollution with extremely high mortality in people with mental disorders and a quadrupled risk of depression in adolescents.

Isobel Braithwaite, of the University College of London (UCL), who led the research, explained: "We have shown that air pollution could cause substantial damage to our mental health, making the need to clean up the air even more urgent we breathe.

About 15% of illnesses due to depression could be prevented. It would be a great achievement, because depression is a very common disease and it is increasing. We must do everything we can to reduce air pollution, whether walking or riding bicycle But we also need to think about system change, in the sense of government policies that help reduce overall levels of air pollution."