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Editorial |

Association of Religious Involvement and Suicide

Harold G. Koenig, MD1,2,3,4
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
2Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
3Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
4School of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):775-776. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1214.
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According to an April 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate among white women in the United States increased by 60% from 4.7 per 100 000 in 1999 to 7.5 per 100 000 in 2014.1 The article in this issue of JAMA Psychiatry by VanderWeele et al2 on religious service attendance in 1996 and the suicide rate from 1996 to 2010 among 89 708 women (97.5% white) in the Nurse’s Health Study, then, is a timely one. This report on US women found that among those attending religious services once per week or more, the incident suicide risk was 84% lower than in those never attending religious services (hazard ratio, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.06-0.46), with more than a 5-fold reduction in incidence rate from 7 per 100 000 person-years to only 1 per 100 000 person-years. The results were similar after excluding women who were depressed or had chronic illness at baseline in 1996.

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Figure.
Religiosity and Positive Emotions in Persons With Major Depressive Disorder

Depressive symptoms do not change with increasing levels of religiosity (P = .43); however, positive emotions (meaning and purpose, optimism, gratitude, and generosity) increase progressively with increasing levels of religiosity (P < .0001).

Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.13

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