Seasonal spring peaks of suicide in victims with and without prior history of hospitalization for mood disorders

J Affect Disord. 2010 Feb;121(1-2):88-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.05.015. Epub 2009 Jun 16.


Background: Seasonal spring peaks of suicide are highly replicated, but their origin is poorly understood. As the peak of suicide in spring could be a consequence of decompensation of mood disorders in spring, we hypothesized that prior history of mood disorders is predictively associated with suicide in spring.

Methods: We analyzed the monthly rates of suicide based upon all 37,987 suicide cases in the Danish Cause of Death Registry from 1970 to 2001. History of mood disorder was obtained from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and socioeconomical data from the Integrated Database for Labour Market Research. The monthly rate ratio of suicide relative to December was estimated using a Poisson regression. Seasonality of suicide between individuals with versus without hospitalization for mood disorders was compared using conditional logistic regression analyses with adjustment for income, marital status, place of residence, and method of suicide.

Results: A statistically significant spring peak in suicide was observed in both groups. A history of mood disorders was associated with an increased risk of suicide in spring (for males: RR=1.18, 95% CI 1.07-1.31; for females: RR=1.20, 95% CI 1.10-1.32).

Limitations: History of axis II disorders was not analyzed. Danish socioeconomical realities have only limited generalizability.

Conclusions: The results support the need to further investigate if exacerbation of mood disorders in spring triggers seasonal peaks of suicide. Identifying triggers for seasonal spring peaks in suicide may lead to uncovering novel risk factors and therapeutic targets for suicide prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / mortality*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Cause of Death
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / mortality*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Recurrence
  • Registries
  • Risk
  • Seasons*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data