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Majority of Suicides Occur after Midnight

Majority of Suicides Occur after Midnight New research provides compelling evidence that suicides are far more likely to occur between midnight and 4 a.m. than during the daytime or evening.

Investigators discovered the mean suicide rate per hour was 10.27 percent after midnight, peaking at 16.27 percent between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m.

In contrast, the mean suicide rate per hour was 2.13 percent between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. When six-hour time blocks were examined, the observed frequency of suicide between midnight and 5:59 a.m. was 3.6 times higher than expected.

Sadly, more than 38,000 Americans die each year from suicides, far exceeding the 16,000 lives taken each year by homicide.

Researchers believe the new analysis may shed light on the causative or precipitating factors for suicide.

“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,” said principal investigator Michael Perlis, Ph.D.

“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,” he said.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.

According to the authors, previous research suggesting that more suicides occur during the day failed to account for the proportion of the population that is awake at each given hour.

The current study involved archival analyses of both the National Violent Death Reporting System, which provided data for the estimated time of fatal injury, and the American Time Use Survey, which provided an hourly proportion of the American population that is awake.

Time of fatal injury was categorized into one-hour bins, and the hourly distribution of these data were weighted by the proportion of people awake at each hour and scaled to 100 percent. A total of 35,332 suicides were included in the analysis.

According to Perlis, an important implication of the study is that the treatment of insomnia may be one way to reduce suicide risk.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about 10 percent of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder lasting at least three months.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

 
Suicidal man with gun photo by shutterstock.

Majority of Suicides Occur after Midnight

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Majority of Suicides Occur after Midnight. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/03/majority-of-suicides-occur-after-midnight/70739.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.