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Hot Weather and Suicide Deaths among Older Adults in Hong Kong, 1976-2014: A Retrospective Study

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17(10):3449. 2020
Chau P.H.*, Yip P.S.F., Lau H.Y.E., Ip Y.T., Law F.Y.W., Ho R.T.H., Leung A.Y.M., Wong J.Y.H., Woo J.


Findings of the association between hot weather and suicide in a subtropical city such as Hong Kong are inconsistent. This study aimed to revisit the association by identifying meteorological risk factors for older-adult suicides in Hong Kong using a time-series approach. A retrospective study was conducted on older-adult (aged ≥65) suicide deaths in Hong Kong from 1976 to 2014. Suicides were classified into those involving violent methods and those involving nonviolent methods. Meteorological data, including ambient temperature, were retrieved. Transfer function time-series models were fitted. In total, 7314 older-adult suicide deaths involving violent methods and 630 involving nonviolent methods were recorded. For violent-method suicides, a monthly average daily minimum ambient temperature was determined to best predict the monthly rate, and a daily maximum ambient temperature of 30.3 °C was considered the threshold. For suicide deaths involving nonviolent methods, the number of days in a month for which the daily maximum ambient temperature exceeded 32.7 °C could best predict the monthly rate. Higher ambient temperature was associated with more older-adult suicide deaths, both from violent and nonviolent methods. Weather-focused preventive measures for older-adult suicides are necessary, such as the provision of more public air-conditioned areas where older adults can shelter from extreme hot weather

Keywords: Suicide; temperature; weather; older adults; Hong Kong

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