Air pollution and asthma may cause as many as one in 14 suicides in Taiwan, a report has suggested.
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A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found a possible link between the disease and 8% of suicides in the Asian country.
While the figures suggest a connection, its nature remains unclear. Pollution can cause the symptoms of asthma to worsen, and several studies have linked it to heart disease, but researchers have little idea why it could make a person more likely to take their own life.
Dr Wayne Katon, a psychiatrist at the University of Washington in Seattle, said one possibility was that deteriorating health pushed vulnerable people over the age, especially those with a chronic condition such as asthma.
“It points out another negative part of air pollution,” he explained. “In a way, suicide is a proxy for a bad effect on the whole of society. All patients with chronic illness should be screened for depressive symptoms.”