Year: 2013 Source: Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology.(2012).47(1):11-17.DOI: 10.1007/s00127-010-0307-y. SIEC No: 20130098

Purpose: Countries with Muslim populations report relatively lower rates of suicide. However, authors have noted methodological flaws in the data. This study examined reliable rates of completed suicide, suicide ideation, planning and attempts among Muslims as compared to Jews in Israel. Methods: For completed suicide, information was extracted from death certificates (2003-2007); the National Emergency Room Admissions Database (NERAD) provided data on suicide attempts (2003-2007); and the Israel National Health Survey (INHS) (2003-2004) was used for self reports on lifetime suicide ideation, planning and attempts. Results: Completed suicide rates among Muslim-Israelis (3.0 per 100,000) were lower compared to Jewish-Israelis (8.2 per 100,000). Based on NERAD, attempted suicide rates among men were lower for Muslims compared to Jews, while among women aged 15-44 no differences were found. In the INHS, the rate of self-reported lifetime suicide attempts was significantly higher among Muslims (2.8%) compared to Jews (1.2%), while lifetime prevalence rates of suicide ideation (6.6%) and planning (2.1%) in Muslims did not differ from Jews (5.2 and 1.9%, respectively). Conclusions: Conceivably, the lower rate of completed suicide among Muslim-Israelis might be explained by the strenuous proscription of suicide by the Koran. However, its extension to suicide attempts is equivocal: attempts were higher among Muslims than among Jews according to self-reports but lower in the NERAD records. Social pressures exerted on the reporting agents may bias the diagnosis of self-harm in both the latter data source and in the death certificates.