Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/673

This page has been validated.




THE relation between general climatic conditions and the prevalence of suicide has been somewhat exhaustively studied by students of criminology, the result being a considerable accumulation of data and the formulation of a number of more or less tenable theories. From these studies we may safely conclude that the homicidal tendency, as shown by self-destruction (suicide) and the destruction of others (murder), is stronger in the temperate climatic zones than in the torrid or frigid, and that in the late spring and early summer months more of these offenses have been recorded than for any other period of the year. To these few facts the seeming effects of cosmical forces upon such tendencies has apparently been limited.

It fact, it was the oft-repeated statement that nothing was known of the exact relations of the more definite meteorological conditions with the prevalence of suicide-—a statement to be found in most treatises upon the subject—that has given rise to this paper. Realizing that the science of climatology must include, and in fact be based upon, a study of the meteorological conditions prevalent, and that the study of these definite conditions for the exact times when suicides or murders occurred might throw some light upon the question, this problem was undertaken.

In the preparation of the accompanying charts, from the study of which the conclusions herein stated were deduced, the record of crime for Denver, Colorado, for the fourteen years ending with June, 1897, was made use of. Superintendent Howe, chief of the city detective service, has kept such a record with the greatest care, and we wish here to acknowledge the many courtesies of his office.

No attempt has been made in this paper to compare the conditions for Denver, either meteorological or social—and each is somewhat unique—with such conditions elsewhere. In fact, such a comparative study is at present impossible since data are wanting.

In the actual preparation of the charts each murder, suicide, or attempt at suicide—which, for our purpose, is equally important—was set down chronologically in the left-hand columns of large sheets of paper ruled for the purpose. These sheets were then taken to the office of the United States Weather Bureau, F. H. Brandenburg, director, where were recorded in the proper columns the maximum and minimum barometer readings, maximum and minimum temperature, maximum and minimum humidity, maximum velocity of the wind, precipitation, and character of the day for