DROUGHT AND HOTTER TEMPERATURE IMPACTS ON SUICIDE: EVIDENCE FROM THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN, AUSTRALIA

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Abstract

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is Australia's prime agricultural region, where drought and hotter weather pose a significant threat to rural residents' mental health - hence increasing their potential suicide risk. We investigate the impact of drought and hotter temperatures on monthly suicide within local areas in the MDB, from 2006-2016. Using Poisson fixed-effects regression modeling, we found that extreme drought and hotter temperatures were associated with increased total suicide rates. The effects of extreme drought and temperature on suicide were heterogeneous across gender and age groups, with younger men more vulnerable. Areas with higher percentages of Indigenous and farmer populations were identified as hot spots, and were vulnerable to increased temperatures and extreme drought. Green space coverage (and to some extent higher incomes) moderated the drought and suicide relationship. Providing targeted interventions in vulnerable groups and hot spot areas is warranted to reduce the suicide effect of climate change.

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Xu, Y., Wheeler, S. A., & Zuo, A. (2023). DROUGHT AND HOTTER TEMPERATURE IMPACTS ON SUICIDE: EVIDENCE FROM THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN, AUSTRALIA. Climate Change Economics. https://doi.org/10.1142/S2010007823500240

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