'Just Being Awake at Night' May Be Suicide Risk Factor

Study finds suicide rate peaks at 2am hour

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 5, 2014 8:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – People are more likely to commit suicide after midnight, and the suicide rate peaks between 2am and 3am, according to a new study. Using data from the American Time Use Survey, which calculates the proportion of Americans who are awake at any given hour, as well as the National Violent Death Reporting System, which provides data for time of fatal injury, researchers categorized more than 35,000 suicides by the hour in which they happened. While the weighted, scaled mean suicide rate is 2% between 6am and midnight, it jumps to 10% between midnight and 4am and peaks at 16% between 2am and 3am.

“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," the lead investigator tells Penn Medicine. "Just being awake at night may in and of itself be a risk factor for suicide," he continues. Previous research has found that more suicides occur during the day, but those numbers didn't account for how many people are actually awake at any given hour. Since such a higher percentage of people who are up commit suicide in the wee hours, researchers say that treating insomnia could help lower the risk of suicide, which at 38,000 deaths per year is the 10th highest cause of death in the US, according to Medline Plus.

  (Shutterstock)
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