Scientists Claim Climate Change Will Cause More Suicides in Future

After analyzing certain tweets, researchers at two California colleges warn escalating temperatures may lead to self-inflicted deaths

It turns out special counsel Robert Mueller may not be the only one aiming to stitch together a case (against President Donald Trump) using public tweets — as The New York Times recently reported.

After analyzing more than half a billion tweets, researchers at Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley are predicting “unmitigated climate change” will lead to a surge in suicide rates in the United States and Mexico by 9,000 to 40,000 by the year 2050.

This is according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The findings come amid heightened concern about the growing suicide rate.

In June, designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain both committed suicide, bewildering their fans the world over.

Suicide rates across the country have risen dramatically — nearly 30 percent since 1999 — and mental health conditions are one of several factors contributing to suicide.

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Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We found very strong evidence that abnormally hot weather increases both suicide rates and the use of depressive language on social media,” lead author Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of earth system science in the school of earth, energy and environmental sciences at Stanford, told Berkeley News.

“Analysis of depressive language in 600 million social media updates further suggests that mental well-being deteriorates during warmer periods,” said the study’s abstract.

Researchers found that words like “lonely,” “trapped” and “suicidal” are more prevalent when temperatures are higher, even among affluent populations, according to reporting from Stanford News.

“To the extent that climate change will increase the frequency or intensity of heat waves, then I think it is very likely there will be an increase in suicides,” Alex Berezow, a writer for the American Council on Science and Health from Seattle, Washington, told LifeZette. “Heat waves are associated with exacerbated mental health conditions, and schizophrenics and dementia patients have worse symptoms during heat waves. Crime also increases.”

Still, “hotter temperatures are clearly not the only, nor the most important, risk factor for suicide,” Burke acknowledged, according to reporting in Stanford News. “But our findings suggest that warming can have a surprisingly large impact on suicide risk, and this matters for both our understanding of mental health as well as for what we should expect as temperatures continue to warm.”

LifeZette reached out to Burke for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

And while the Trump administration has rolled back many Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change, the Supreme Court in Juliana v. United States rejected the government’s request recently that the case be stayed as “premature.”

“Heat waves are associated with exacerbated mental health conditions, and schizophrenics and dementia patients have worse symptoms during heat waves. Crime also increases.”

The lawsuit, filed by 21 children in 2015 by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, alleges that “through its own affirmative actions that cause climate change, it [the government] has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources,” according to the group’s website.

Related: Hillary Clinton Predicts Women Will ‘Bear the Brunt’ of ‘Climate Change’

Incidentally — and perhaps ironically — the Obama administration also tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing climate change remedies are better dealt with by Congress than in court.

Not surprisingly, the trial is scheduled to begin in late October — in ultra-liberal Eugene, Oregon.

This piece has been updated.

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.

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