Foehn wind as a seasonal suicide risk factor in a mountain region
Objective: The belief that the foehn wind has an impact on suicide is firmly rooted in local culture in various mountain regions of the world, but scientific data on this subject are limited. In this study, the hypothesis of a possible relationship between Halny (foehn type wind occurring in the Polish part of the Tatra Mountains) and the risk of suicide was examined. Method: The number of suicides recorded in the years 1999–2014 by the Police Office in the Tatra region in the context of diurnal meteorological data was defined. Foehn was defined as a set of various meteorological factors, including changes in air pressure, temperature, humidity, cloud cover as well as wind direction and speed. The days on which favourable conditions for the occurrence of the foehn wind and the two days preceding the phenomenon were taken into account. The relative risk of suicide was calculated. Results: 210 cases of suicides were recorded during the study period, of which 14.5% occurred on the foehn wind day. The suicide rate was similar throughout the year, regardless of the season. Halny did not change the overall daily risk of suicide, but could have had an impact on the seasonal risk of suicide (p < 0.05). In two groups of foehn wind, relative risk increased more than fourfold in summer and twice in autumn, and in spring it decreased tenfold. Conclusion: There are no clear links between the occurrence of the foehn wind and suicides. The foehn wind could increase the risk of suicide in the Tatra Mountains in the summer and autumn of the analysed period. Further research is needed to explain a possible relationship between foehn winds and suicide as well as to apply the research results in this field in suicide prevention in the mountain regions.