A new study indicates that teens raised in a religious home have a lower risk of suicide.
The three-generation study by researchers at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University examined 214 children from 112 families, according to a HealthDay report published by Newsmax.
It concluded that teens, especially girls, whose parents are religious may be less likely to die by suicide, no matter how they feel about religion themselves.
Most of the subjects in the study, published online Aug. 8 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, belonged to Christian denominations.
The Columbia University researchers said the lower suicide risk among those raised in a religious home is independent of other common risk factors, including whether parents suffered from depression, showed suicidal behavior or divorced.
But the researchers cautioned that the study does not prove that a religious upbringing prevents suicide. It shows only that there is an association between the two.
Melinda Moore, chairwoman of the clinical division of the American Association of Suicidology and a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, noted to HealthDay that even ministers sometimes die by suicide.
But she said spiritual communities can give hope and meaning to people in crisis, and a sense of belonging and support to those considering harming themselves.
“We know what places people at risk for suicide – it’s a sense of not feeling connected to a community and feeling like you’re a burden and your life doesn’t matter,” Moore said.
She added, however, that in some cases professional mental care may be required as well.
HealthDay said that about 12 percent of American teens say they have had suicidal thoughts. Suicide is the leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-old girls.