Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide between 1996 and 2016, says a study published last week by JAMA Psychiatry.
Conducted in the United States, in a study population made up women who identified themselves Religious and attending religious services, the suicide rate observed was about half that for U.S. women as a whole. Of 89,708 participants aged 30 to 55, 36 committed suicide at some point over 15 years.
Women who worshiped weekly at church were far less likely to take their own lives than were women who seldom or never attended religious services.
Among devout religious women, those in a place of worship more than once a week, suicides were a vanishing phenomenon. Among 6,999 women who said they attended religious services 3 times a week, there was not a single suicide.
This team of researchers led by Tyler J. VanderWeele of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggested that attendance at religious services is “a form of meaningful social participation” that buffers women against loneliness and isolation, both factors that are strongly implicated in depression and suicide.
So next time you are in a public place, don’t fear the Muslim woman in the hijab, fear the atheist woman in the mini-skirt and cleavage revealing blouse. As for the men, we have to wait on JAMA to complete that study.