A recent study found a correlation between suicidal behavior and religious belief in a family.
In a study conducted by Columbia University and the New York Psychiatric Institute, researchers found that teenagers brought up in a religious household are less likely to think about suicide or die from suicide, reports the World Religion News.
If families have an organizing principle about who they are and how they live and they have raised their kids in that kind of belief scaffold, there is some kind of structure that may help prevent suicide because it offers a sense of purpose within the family. —Dr. John Walkup, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine
The 30-year study collected data from three generations of families and scientists analyzed the effect of religion on suicide. A total of 112 families was studied and most of the participants were Christians. The study showed that religious families had a lower suicide rate compared to families who are non-believers.
The study also found that suicide is the leading cause of death among teenage girls in the U.S. Researchers clarified though that the findings do not show that being raised in a religious household will prevent a child or teenager from committing suicide. It only shows a positive connection between the two variables.
The introduction to the study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, according to Premier. The authors said religious or spiritual belief was not considered when examining the risk factors of child and adolescent suicide.
“This is surprising given that religious beliefs and practices have been associated with lower rates of suicide,” wrote the authors.
Dr. John Walkup, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said, “if families have an organizing principle about who they are and how they live and they have raised their kids in that kind of belief scaffold, there is some kind of structure that may help prevent suicide because it offers a sense of purpose within the family.”
Dr. Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed with Dr. Walkup’s observation. He said a parent’s spirituality provides protection for their children because “it could be delivering a sense of community.”
“Religion embeds you in a community of like-minded people,” said Dr. Walkup.