High and Alive

Researchers have recently published surprising findings that people who live in higher elevations are more at risk to commit suicide. Although the causal link is still unknown, the researchers used solid methods and controlled for typical suicide risk factors such as age, race, gender, and income. One potential explanation for this finding is that people who live in higher altitudes receive less oxygen, and this could potentially adversely affect people’s brains. However, this study was only done domestically, so we would have to see data from other countries and find a similar correlation to extrapolate that something such as thinness in air could elevate suicide risk. Whatever the reason for this link between highly elevated residence and suicide risk may be, it must be addressed.

One way to address this link is to publicize the results of this study. People need to be aware of this strange correlation. Such awareness will bring about several benefits. First, people who live in places of high elevation will know that they are more at risk to commit suicide than the average person. Just as a person with a family history of diabetes must be extra-careful in maintaining a healthy diet to avoid diabetes, someone living high in the mountains should be even more precautious about mental health than the average person. People who live in such areas should also look out for suicidal signs from friends and family members. One researcher also suggested that people experiencing signs of depression and suicidal thoughts living in high altitude locations consider moving to a lower altitude. It may not solve the problem, but at the very least would rule out the altitude as a factor for the individual’s feelings. Finally, psychiatrists, counselors, and other mental health professionals looking for jobs should move to these areas, as there is clearly a demand for these services in these areas.

This study leads me to another extrapolation. Neither the researchers nor I understand the causal link between altitude and suicide incidence. However, the study does reinforce my opinion that physiological and environmental factors, even those that seem irrelevant, can lead to higher incidence of mental health disorders or suicide. Thus, researchers should receive funding to conduct similar studies to find other risk factors, and people should be aware of such risk factors so that they can take the necessary precautions to counteract them.

We can decrease the amount of overall suicides if we are aware of risk factors. By being aware of risk factors, people can be vigilant in maintaining personal mental health, monitoring the mental health of friends, and finding professional help. In this post, I wanted to point out this strange correlation so that you could tell others about it. By spreading the word, you can help other people make the necessary precautions to avoid needless deaths.



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