Do ambient electromagnetic fields affect behaviour? A demonstration of the relationship between geomagnetic storm activity and suicide
M Berk, S Dodd, Mélissa Henry.
The relationship between ambient electromagnetic fields and human mood and behaviour is of great public health interest. The relationship between Ap indices of geomagnetic storm activity and national suicide statistics for Australia from 1968 to 2002 was studied. Ap index data was normalised so as to be globally uniform and gave a measure of storm activity for each day. A geomagnetic storm event was defined as a day in which the Ap index was equal to or exceeded 100 nT. Suicide data was a national tally of daily male and female death figures where suicide had been documented as the cause of death. A total of 51 845 males and 16 327 females were included. The average number of suicides was greatest in spring for males and females, and lowest in autumn for males and summer for females. Suicide amongst females increased significantly in autumn during concurrent periods of geomagnetic storm activity (P = .01). This pattern was not observed in males (P = .16). This suggests that perturbations in ambient electromagnetic field activity impact behaviour in a clinically meaningful manner. The study furthermore raises issues regarding other sources of stray electromagnetic fields and their effect on mental health.
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