An examination of the prospective association between religious service attendance and suicide: Explanatory factors and period effects.
Kleiman, E. & Liu, R.
We addressed two unanswered questions from prior research, demonstrating a prospective association between frequent religious service attendance and decreased risk for suicide. First, we assessed whether religious service attendance conferred protection from suicide even after accounting for strength of religious affiliation. Second, we evaluated whether the relationship between religious service attendance and suicide was subject to period effects.
Data were drawn from the 1978–2010 General Social Survey, a nationally representative study of 30,650 non-institutionalized, English-speaking American residents age 18 or older. Data were linked with the National Death Index through the end of 2014. We analyzed these data using moderated Cox proportional hazard analyses.
Religious affiliation had no relationship with suicide. Religious service attendance only had a protective effect against suicide death among those in later (2000–2010) rather than earlier (1998 and earlier) data collection periods.
Secondary analysis of data limited the types of variables that were available.
The protective nature of religion is due more to participating in religious activities, such as attending religious services, than to having a strong religious affiliation, and this effect exists primarily in more recent data collection periods.