A new study out of Harvard University found that women who go to church at least once a week have a lower risk of suicide than women who never attend a service.
The study looked at more than 89,000 women nurses between the ages of 30 and 55, mostly white and all Catholic or Protestant. The study took place from 1996 to 2010 and found that the women attending church were five times less likely than other women. Protestant women were less likely than women who didn’t attend service to commit suicide, but Catholic women were seven times less likely to commit suicide than the Protestant women.
Among the 6,999 Catholic women who went to church at least once a week, none of them committed suicide. The study was able to narrow it down the correlation to church attendance because of the women who identified as Catholic, but didn’t attend mass, their suicide rates were on par with women of any religious identity who wasn’t attending service.
The authors of the study called attending services “a form of meaningful social participation” that keeps women from feeling isolated and loneliness, which are two factors strongly correlated with depression and suicide.
This comes just months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate increased 24 percent, with the highest rate for females being in girls aged 10-14.
“Religion and spirituality may be an under-appreciated resource that psychiatrists and clinicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate,” wrote a team of researchers led by Tyler J. VanderWeele of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.