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Study Claims Catholic Church Attendance Linked to Reduced Suicide Risk

Carrie Dedrick | Thursday, June 30, 2016

Study Claims Catholic Church Attendance Linked to Reduced Suicide Risk

Women who attend church at least once per week are less likely to commit suicide, according to a new study. The Los Angeles Times reports a study of 89,708 mostly Catholic and Protestant women found that 36 committed suicide in a 15-year period. The results observed were half the U.S. suicide rate. 

The study, published by JAMA Psychiatry, found that Protestant women who attended church services regularly were less likely to self-harm that women who attended services seldomly, or not at all. But Catholic women were the least likely to commit suicide, especially those who were the most devout. No Catholic women who attended services multiple times per week committed suicide in the study. 

The researchers wrote that church attendance is “a form of meaningful social participation” that can deter depression, a cause of suicide.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, co-author of “The Catholic Guide to Depression” said, “Religious convictions and practices can help people foster a sense of hope, even in the midst of major crises or adversities. Religious faith can help people find a sense of meaning and purpose even in suffering.” 

According to Kheriaty, it is not a psychiatrist’s role to proselytize to patients, but doctors could “encourage patients to explore such activities confident that religious practices will likely not harm, and may indeed, help, their patient’s mental health.”

Publication date: June 30, 2016