Traffic noises linked to higher suicide risk, study finds

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Mental health disorders affect almost one billion people globally, and they are one of the primary reasons for suicide.

In Switzerland, it is estimated that approximately 1.4 million individuals suffer from mental health problems, and around 1,000 people take their own lives every year.

Environmental factors like air pollution and noise are associated with adverse health consequences such as cardiovascular diseases and overall well-being.

However, strong evidence on the impact of transportation noise on mental health disorders is limited.

For the first time, scientists from Swiss TPH have analyzed the correlation between transportation noise and suicide in Switzerland.

The study analyzed data from 5.1 million adults in the Swiss National Cohort from 2001 to 2015.

The team found that exposure to transportation noise at home is linked to a higher risk of death by suicide. Every 10 decibels (dB) increase in average road traffic noise at home raises the risk of suicide by 4%.

An association with railway noise was also observed, albeit less pronounced.

The observed results remained robust even after controlling for exposure to air pollution, the amount of greenery around the home, and various socio-economic indicators.

According to the team, they used suicides as an indicator for mental health disorders as they did not have robust Swiss data on mental health diagnoses such as depression or anxiety.

Noise increases the mental load, contributing to the development of mental disorders or the worsening of preexisting conditions.

The biological mechanisms by which noise affects mental health include sleep disruption, increased levels of stress hormones, changes in brain function, or a sense of loss of control.

The brain perceives noise as a sign of a possible threat and triggers a ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Constant transportation noise in your home may make you restless and unable to handle stress.

The study analyzed data from 5.1 million people aged 15 and above from the Swiss National Cohort between 2001 and 2015.

The researchers compared this with noise exposure data from transportation sources, including road traffic, railways, and aircraft.

The noise exposure data were available for all households in 2001 and 2011 and were assigned to the study participants based on their place of residence.

The study emphasizes the importance of addressing the health impacts of transportation noise, air pollution, and greenery in urban planning and public health policies.

The study contributes to the growing body of evidence that prolonged exposure to transportation noise affects our physical and mental well-being.

Air pollution has also been linked to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

Studies have found that long-term exposure to air pollution can cause brain damage, including inflammation and oxidative stress, which contribute to mental health problems.

Additionally, air pollution may harm the brain by reducing oxygen levels, increasing the risk of stroke, and reducing cognitive function.

Green spaces like parks and forests have also been linked to improved mental health outcomes, including reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

Access to green spaces has been shown to increase physical activity, which is associated with better mental health outcomes.

Additionally, exposure to greenery has been linked to improved cognitive function and attention.

If you care about depression, please read studies about vegetarianism linked to higher risk of depression, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that new drug could start fighting depression in just 2 hours, and fishing could reduce severe mental health problems.

The study was conducted by Benedikt Wicki et al and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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