Awake Between Midnight and 4 AM? You Might Be At Risk For Suicide

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

According to a new study, more suicides occur between midnight and four AM than any other time, and suicidal behavior during this period peaks between two AM and three AM. It seems like folklore is ahead of science on this one: The wee hours of the night have been called by many things in European culture, not any of them good: The Witching Hour, and even more relevant: The Hour of the Wolf: A time in which it is believed most births and deaths occur.

I first ran across the latter when I watched Ingmar Bergman’s psychological horror film of the same name. I can’t recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, get some sleep, disinfonauts.

DARIEN, IL – A new study provides novel evidence suggesting that suicides are far more likely to occur between midnight and 4 a.m. than during the daytime or evening.

Results show that the weighted, scaled mean suicide rate per hour was 10.27 percent after midnight, peaking at 16.27 percent between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. In contrast, the mean suicide rate per hour was 2.13 percent between 6 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. When six-hour time blocks were examined, the observed frequency of suicide between midnight and 5:59 a.m. was 3.6 times higher than expected.

“This appears to be the first data to suggest that circadian factors may contribute to suicidality and help explain why insomnia is also a risk factor for suicidal ideation and behavior,” said principal investigator Michael Perlis, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Penn Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “These results suggest that not only are nightmares and insomnia significant risk factors for suicidal ideation and behavior, but just being awake at night may in and of itself be a risk factor for suicide,” he said.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Tuesday, June 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

According to the authors, previous research suggesting that more suicides occur during the day failed to account for the proportion of the population that is awake at each given hour. The current study involved archival analyses of both the National Violent Death Reporting System, which provided data for the estimated time of fatal injury, and the American Time Use Survey, which provided an hourly proportion of the American population that is awake. Time of fatal injury was categorized into one-hour bins, and the hourly distribution of these data were weighted by the proportion of people awake at each hour and scaled to 100 percent. A total of 35,332 suicides were included in the analysis.

According to Perlis, an important implication of the study is that the treatment of insomnia may be one way to reduce suicide risk. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about 10 percent of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder lasting at least three months.

Accounting for more than 38,000 deaths each year, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In comparison, about 16,000 deaths occur each year due to homicide.


14 Comments on "Awake Between Midnight and 4 AM? You Might Be At Risk For Suicide"

  1. Hadrian999 | Jun 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm |

    funny, i feel most suicidal between 6am and noon

    • Number1Framer | Jun 5, 2014 at 11:23 pm |

      Or how about 9am-5pm Monday through Friday?

      • Hoarfraust | Jun 6, 2014 at 4:04 am |

        Damn you–beat me to it!

        • JamieMehmetril | Jun 6, 2014 at 5:03 am |

          my classmate’s aunt makes $68 every hour on the
          computer . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was
          $15495 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

        • Matt Staggs | Jun 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm |

          NAILED IT. I know I felt closer to swallowing a fistful of staples working behind a desk 9 to 5 than I ever have as a freelancer struggling with a deadline at 2 AM.

      • Rebecca Brandt | Jun 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm |

        I work third shift, so the Witching hour is about right.

  2. ‘Two-thirds of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides. In 2010, there were 19,392 firearm-related suicides,…’

    ~ h**p://en.wikipedia.*rg/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

    • Hadrian999 | Jun 5, 2014 at 11:39 pm |

      so sad…if you are going to puch out early might as well do it interesting

      • If you’re going to do it interesting, using a gun seems a bit vanilla, in my book.

        • Hadrian999 | Jun 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm |

          thats my point, do something crazy

          • Ah whoops, yes indeedy. Entirely misinterpreted your prev. comment – my bad, can only blame sleep dep, as when I re-read it now, I have no idea how I could have arrived at that previous conclusion!

            So yes. Something novel involving a particle accelerator, thirty-two rubber bands and a bucket of warm, soapy frogs would be infinitely preferable.

          • VaudeVillain | Jun 6, 2014 at 1:27 am |

            I dunno, I’d rather do something beautiful than crazy. Something that could also be a haiku.

    • a lot of single driver crashes are attempts

  3. Are you alive? you might be at risk for suicide–

Comments are closed.