Year: 2013 Source: World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review.(2008).3(2):77-95. SIEC No: 20130744

Parallel to the growing interest in spiritual life in mainstream culture, in Western culture there has been an increasing distinction between religion and spirituality. This article defines the concept of spirituality and its constitutive elements and presents evidence from the literature to show that, in spit of its importance of mental health patients and suicidal people, it is still an overlooked area in Suicidology. Not only are there relatively few studies addressing this topic, but ‘religion/spirituality’ is usually just one of a series of variables, generally measured with a single question (mainly inquiring about church attendance/affiliation). Furthermore, studies on non-religious forms of spirituality are rare. Attention is also given to meaning and purpose in life, a central aspect of spirituality that has been generally neglected in suicide research. Some examples of instrument to measure spiritual constructs are provided, with a particular focus on mean/purpose in life. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research and stressing the importance of considering spirituality in the clinical assessment and treatment of suicidal behaviour.

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