ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, suicides are more likely to happen after midnight.
Researchers determined that the suicide rate per hour was 10.27 percent after midnight. It peaked at 16.27 between 2 and 3 a.m. The suicide rate between 6 a.m. and midnight was 2.13 percent.
“This appears to be the first data to suggest that circadian factors may contribute to suicidality and help explain why insomnia is also a risk factor for suicidal ideation and behavior,” Michael Perlis, PhD., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Penn Behavior Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and lead investigator on this study told Medical Xpress. “These results suggest that not only are nightmares and insomnia significant risk factors for suicidal ideation and behavior, but just being awake at night may in and of itself be a risk factor for suicide.”
The researchers analyzed data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, which provides data for the estimated time of fatal injury, and the American Time Use Survey, which provides an hourly proportion of the American population is awake.
Researchers analyzed over 35,000 suicides and categorized them into one-hour bins. They then compared the suicides to the proportion of people awake at each hour.
The authors of this study say that previous research, which suggested that more suicides happen during the day, did not account for the proportion of the population that is awake during the night.
Perlis suggests that treating insomnia may be one way to reduce suicide risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide accounts for more than 38,000 deaths each year and is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
The abstract was published in the journal Sleep; with the findings being presented at SLEEP 20014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC on Tuesday June 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.