Earth's magnetic field may be responsible for suicides

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London, Apr 25 : Scientists believe that earth's magnetic field may be responsible for suicidal behaviour among people.

Oleg Shumilov of the Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems in Russia studied earth's geomagnetic field from 1948 to 1997 and found three seasonal peaks, from March to May, July and October.

And they discovered a link between geomagnetism peaks and increase in the number of suicides in the northern Russian city of Kirovsk.

Various other studies have also found a casual link between human health and geomagnetism.

A review conducted in 2006 by Michael Rycroft, formerly head of the European Geosciences Society, on cardiovascular health and disturbances, suggested that a link was possible and the impact was more at higher altitudes.

He said that geomagnetic health problems affected 10pct to 15pct of the population.

"Others have found similar things [to Shumilov's results] in independent sets of data," New Scientist quoted Rycroft, as saying.

"It suggests something may be linking the two factors," he added.

Another 2006 Australian study suggested a connection between peaks in suicide numbers and geomagnetic activity.

Furthermore, a 13-year review of South African data on suicides and magnetic storms also hinted a link.

A 1994 study also showed 36.2 pct increase in men admitted in hospital citing depression in the second week after geomagnetic storms.

"The intriguing correlation between geomagnetism and suicide justifies more research into its mechanism," said Rycroft.

Kelly Posner, a psychiatrist at Columbia University said that pineal gland, responsible for regulating circadian rhythm and melatonin production, is sensitive to magnetic fields.

"The circadian regulatory system depends upon repeated environmental cues to [synchronise] internal clocks," said Posner.

"Magnetic fields may be one of these environmental cues," he added.

Posner also revealed that these storms can disturb body clocks and precipitating seasonal affective disorder thereby boosting suicide risk.

ANI

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