Going to church: Is it worth it? Yes! New study says it lowers risk of suicide among women

Mental Health

By pH health care professionals

Despite the increasing awareness surrounding mental health issues, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. However, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry sheds light on an unexpected source of suicide prevention -- church!

Researchers studied more than 20 years’ worth of data from nearly 90,000 women ages 30-55, looking for any associations between religious service attendance and suicide. What they found? Attending a religious service once a week or more was associated with an approximately five times lower suicide rate compared with those who never attended religious services! Most of the women who attended church were Catholic or Protestant.

When drawing their conclusions, the researchers noted that they were careful to account for other factors that would affect suicide risk, such as lifestyle, medical history, depressive symptoms and social integration.

While an association does not prove a cause and effect relationship, it is certainly worth keeping in mind. Perhaps the women felt a greater sense of meaning, belonging and support from their church communities.

Another way to prevent suicide is to look for the signs.

Suicide warning signs may include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves

  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Making a suicide plan by searching online, stockpiling pills or buying a gun

  • Talking about a great amount of guilt or shame

  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling there are no solutions

  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Using alcohol or drugs more often

  • Acting anxious or agitated

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast

  • Talking or thinking about death often

  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy

  • Giving away important possessions

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If you or someone you know may be at risk, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text The Crisis Text Line: 741741. The  deaf and hard of hearing can contact the lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

Find more resources here.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.

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