The influence of air-suspended particulate concentration on the incidence of suicide attempts and exacerbation of schizophrenia

Naomy S. Yackerson, Arkadi Zilberman, Doron Todder, Zeev Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The main objective of this study was to evaluate the role of the concentration of solid air-suspended particles (SSP) in the incidence of mental disorders. The study is based on 1,871 cases, registered in the Beer-Sheva Mental Health Center (BS-MHC) at Ben-Gurion University (Israel) during a 16-month period from 2001 to 2002; 1,445 persons were hospitalized due to exacerbation of schizophrenia (ICD-10: F20-F29) and 426 after committing a suicide attempt using a variety of means as coded in the ICD-10 (ICD-10: X60-X84). Pearson and Spearman test correlations were used; the statistical significance was tested at p < 0.1. A significant correlation between variations of SSP number concentration (NC) during eastern desert wind during early morning hours and number of suicide attempts, NSU, was found (ρ > 0.3, p < 0.05), whereas correlation between NC and NSU during western air streams (sea breeze) was not observed (p > 0.2). A trend towards positive correlation (ρ > 0.2, p < 0.1) between the NC and number of persons with exacerbation of schizophrenia as manifested in psychotic attack (NPS) in periods with dominant eastern winds (4-9 am, local time) has been observed, while in the afternoon and evening hours (1-8 pm local time) with dominant western winds, NC and NPS are not correlated (p > 0.1). Obviously, concentration of SSP is not the one and only parameter of air pollution state determining meteorological-biological impact, involving incidence of mental disorders, although its role can scarcely be overstated. However, since it is one of the simplest measured parameters, it could be widely used and helpful in the daily struggle for human life comfort in semi-arid areas as well as urban and industrial surroundings, where air pollution reaches crucial values. This study may permit determination of the limits for different external factors, which do not overcome threshold values (without provoking avalanche situations), to single out the group of people at increased risk (with according degree of statistic probability), whose reactions to the weather violations can involve the outbreak of frustration points and prevent or alleviate detrimental mental effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Exacerbation of schizophrenia
  • Semi-arid areas
  • Solid air-suspended particles
  • Suicide attempts


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