Parents' religious belief was found to play a key role in lowering the risk of suicidal behavior in children regardless of the child's belief in religion.
About 12 percent of adolescents in the United States report having thoughts about attempting suicide, and suicide is a primary cause of death among females 15 to 19.
‘Higher parental belief in the importance of religion can lower the risk of suicidal behavior in children.’
Religious and spiritual beliefs have gotten less attention in previous research examining risk factors of child and adolescent suicide. This study used data from a three-generation family study for children and adolescents whose parents were at high or low risk for major depressive disorder because of their grandparents' depression status.
About 214 children from 112 nuclear families using data from a 30-year sample; most belonged to a Christian religious denomination.
Parent and child psychiatric diagnoses and suicidal behaviors; the two measures of religiosity (religious belief) used were importance and attendance.
This was an observational study. The research team were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.
The authors of this study were Priya J. Wickramaratne, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, and coauthors
Higher parental belief in the importance of religion was associated with lower risk of suicidal behavior in children.
The limitations of the study was that the sample of parents and children had regional limitations regarding religious denominations represented; participants were white.