The effect of geomagnetic storms on suicide

  • Charmaine Gordon
  • Michael Berk


Objectives: To correlate geomagnetic storm activity with suicide rates.
Design: A retrospective analysis over a 13 year period, Janaury 1980 to December 1992.
Setting: Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (data on geomagnetic storm activity), South African Central Statistical Services (data on suicide rates).
Subjects: Nil.
Outcome measures: Geomagnetic storm activity and suicide rates.
Results: A significant correlation (r= 0,6964 ; p< 0,01) was found between the mean total of suicides and the mean average of storm activity during the same period. This correlation was true of both male (r= 0,6301 ; p< 0,025) and female (r= 0,7544 ; p< 0,005) suicides.
Conclusions: Geomagnetic storm activity is correlated with suicide, and confirms previous research suggesting an impact of ambient magnetic field activity on behaviour.

S Afr Psychiatry Rev 2003;6:24-27

Author Biographies

Charmaine Gordon
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Science, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School
Michael Berk
Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1994-8220