This study I heard about the other day is nothing short of fascinating. It suggests that living in higher altitude areas, ie in the mountains somewhere, actually increases suicide risk. This is fascinating because up until now, this had not been identified as a major risk factor for either depression, which is always linked with suicidal tendencies, nor suicide itself.
However, that all changed when a study was done on those that have committed suicide by a major university. The findings were staggering, because high altitude was the single most outstanding and consistent factor in the suicide cases that were studied. This means that higher altitudes must have some sort of effect on the psyche that we may not be aware of yet.
The ratio that the risk was increased by was about 1/3 which is hugely significant. They found that the correlation came in for people anywhere above the 6,500 feet above sea level mark. The thoughts now, without further study, but as a hypothesis, is that the decreased oxygen levels at higher altitudes may complicate the chemical reactions that are already occurring in those that may have depression and anxiety or be emotionally unstable and prone to suicidal thoughts to begin with.
There is another link to being in high altitudes and mood that has already been identified which lends credence to this theory. Apparently one study indicated that living in a high altitude area for several days, such as being on vacation or something like that, can actually worsen a person’s mood for up to 90 days after their exposure. Wow, that’s definitely pretty compelling stuff right there if you ask me.