Why Religious Belief Provides a Real Buffer Against Suicide Risk

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Why Religious Belief Provides a Real Buffer Against Suicide Risk

David H Rosmarin

Quote:Under-recognised as a protective force against suicide, religious faith has multiple features that help to save lives

Quote:A 2016 systematic review of the literature located 89 studies on religion and suicide published in the preceding years. The authors concluded unequivocally that religious affiliation protects against suicide attempts with large effect sizes, even after controlling for social support and access to mental health care.

Certain aspects of spirituality and religion can even confer protection against suicidality for non-religious individuals. In one recent study that my programme conducted among participants with chronic mood disorders, belief and faith in God were associated with substantially lower suicidality even among the religiously unaffiliated. While this particular investigation was specific to older adults, none of my previous research has suggested that effects of religion on suicide risk vary with age. I have also not observed that effects are more pronounced within specific faith groups or religious sects, relative to others.

Quote:My favourite explanation for how spirituality and religion may protect against suicide originates from the work of Viktor Frankl – the Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps, and observed that having a sense of meaning and purpose is a key predictor of human wellbeing. When my patients perceive their anxiety, depression or other problems as being potentially constructive in their lives – when they view their struggles as an opportunity to grow in terms of self-awareness, connection with others, or resilience – they rarely (if ever) display significant suicidality. While this philosophical perspective is technically agnostic, in practice it often dovetails with and even emanates from spiritual and religious teachings.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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I guess both the dedicated atheist/materialist and the dedicated Christian fundamentalist, to be true to their beliefs, will prefer the barren despair of what they conceive of as the unvarnished truth of essentially annihilation upon physical death, to a more cheerful afterlife-centered religious/spiritual belief system that demonstrably reduces suicide risk and depression. After all, the fundamentalist has essential nothingness until the Resurrection, and the threat of agonizing eternal hellfire, to cheer him up. And the atheist/materialist has the certain prospect of simple total annihilation along with the positives of fulfilled dedication to what is considered the truth, and the cessation of all suffering, to cheer him up.
(This post was last modified: 2023-09-06, 07:48 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 2 times in total.)
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I’d say SOME religious beliefs. For those who cannot conform it’s often a source of unbearable pain and distress and can lead to suicide.
(This post was last modified: 2023-09-07, 04:43 PM by Obiwan.)
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(2023-09-07, 04:43 PM)Obiwan Wrote: I’d say SOME religious beliefs. For those who cannot conform it’s often a source of unbearable pain and distress and can lead to suicide.

Yeah it's definitely complicated. Religion can also create a barrier to advancing human rights, which sadly too often is the case of untouchables in India to give one example. [Preventing suicide in a forced underclass is good in some sense but having people be accepting of their terrible lot is not.]

But there is also the barrier against suicide that can be provided from just having some spirituality rather than belonging to an organized religion...or at least the stifling orthodoxies...to pull out the writer Attanasio yet again ->

"Jesus was a rabbi, Siddartha a prince. Both learned, literate men - yet they never wrote anything down.

Why? 

Because they were spell-breakers, not spell-binders."
 -Attanasio
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-09-10, 04:53 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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