New Research Finds That Suicides Significantly Increase During Full Moon Weeks

“The biomarkers for suicidality that are predictive of death by suicide during full moon, peak hour of day and peak month of year compared to outside of those periods appear to be genes that regulate the body’s own internal clock (‘circadian clock’),” Niculescu said.

Through these biomarkers, the study also revealed that people with depression or alcohol-use disorder might be at increased risk during those time periods.

As for why exactly the full moon appears to lead to increased suicides, Niculescu believes it could be due to the increased light.

Ambient light has major implications for the human body’s circadian rhythm– or the natural 24-hour cycle that regulates our awake and sleep time. So, increased moonlight could affect people during periods when it is supposed to be darker outside.

“The effect of ambient light and body clocks in suicide needs to be studied more closely, along with how people sleep and their exposure to light,” Niculescu added.

“Changes in light can affect vulnerable people, in conjunction with other risk factors.”

In addition to that, the peak of suicides between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. might be associated with stressors throughout the day and a coinciding decrease of daylight– which causes a lower expression of cortisol and circadian clock genes.

As for the peak in September, the team detailed how many people encounter stress at this time of year– relating to everything from the end of summer vacations to the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

Regardless, the study revealed that the full moon, the fall season, and the later afternoon are all periods with increased suicide risk– especially among individuals suffering from alcohol-use disorders or depression.

And now, the team hopes to expand their research– studying whether or not screen exposure at night also contributes to increased suicides.

To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in Discover Mental Health, visit the link here.

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