Thinking clearly about climate change and mental health

Amos, Andrew James (2023) Thinking clearly about climate change and mental health. Australiasian Psychiatry, 31 (3). pp. 369-375.

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Objective: To examine the quality and strength of evidence for an association between temperature increases caused by climate change and suicide used in policy documents to advocate for radical changes to healthcare systems in pursuit of decarbonisation.

Method: The designs of articles collected in a systematic review which concluded that there was an association between climate change and increased rates of suicide were analysed for their capacity to support this conclusion. Complete US data covering temperatures and suicide rates between 1968 and 2004 was aggregated and analysed using linear regression to evaluate evidence for an association between temperature and suicide.

Results: None of the articles collected in the review has a design capable of investigating whether there is an association between temperature increases caused by climate change and rates of suicide. At the national level increased annual US temperatures were associated with a decrease in the rate of suicide, and at the state level it was common for high average temperature states to have low rates of suicide and vice versa.

Conclusions: Policy recommendations for radical changes in healthcare services have been based on misrepresented evidence. Policy makers should beware of recommendations that ignore scientific evidence to pursue faith-based goals.

Item ID: 79051
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1665
Keywords: administrative psychiatry, Climate change, public policy, suicide
Copyright Information: © The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2023 03:10
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410103 Human impacts of climate change and human adaptation @ 80%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5202 Biological psychology > 520207 Social and affective neuroscience @ 20%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190103 Social impacts of climate change and variability @ 100%
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