The effect of participation in religious activities on suicide versus natural death in adults 50 and older

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2000 Aug;188(8):543-6. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200008000-00011.


This study tests the hypothesis that older persons dying by suicide, compared with natural death, are less likely to have participated in religious activities. Data from the 1993 National Mortality Followback Survey were used to compare the frequency of participation in religious activities of 584 suicides to those of 4279 natural deaths occurring among women and men ages 50 and older. Adjusting for sex, race, marital status, age, and frequency of social contact, the odds for having never participated in religious activities are greater among suicide victims, compared with natural deaths. Participation in religious activities does appear to reduce the odds of the occurrence of suicide. This effect remains even after controlling for the frequency of social contact. The identification of specific factors contributing to this intrinsic benefit of religious participation requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Religion*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology