Suicide and The Catholic Advantage

Suicide and The Catholic Advantage

June 30, 2016

Bill Donohue comments on the link between religion and suicide:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that suicide rates in the U.S. spiked between 1994 and 2014. While women are less likely to kill themselves than men, their rate of suicide jumped by 80 percent over this period. But not all women are at risk.

A study released this week by JAMA Psychiatry, an American Medical Association journal, reported that “Frequent religious service attendance was associated with substantially lower suicide risk among U.S. women compared with women who never attended religious services.” To be exact, the researchers studied approximately 90,000 nurses, mostly women, and found that Catholic and Protestant women had a suicide rate that was half that for women as a whole.

Of the nearly 7,000 Catholic women who went to Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide. Overall, practicing Protestant women were seven times more likely to commit suicide than their Catholic counterparts, suggesting there really is a Catholic advantage. Indeed, my 2015 book, The Catholic Advantage, substantiates this finding.

Today, those without a religious affiliation have the highest suicide rates, illustrated most dramatically in San Francisco: someone jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death every two weeks. It is not the faithful who are waiting in line to jump—it’s the non-believing free spirits.

On a related note, Gallup released a survey yesterday that shows approximately 9 in 10 Americans believe in God. But as we learned from the JAMA Psychiatry study, only those who regularly attend religious services are less likely to commit suicide.

In other words, mere belief, and amorphous expressions of spirituality, aren’t enough to ward off the demons that trigger suicide. And no group is more at risk than atheists.

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3 comments on “Suicide and The Catholic Advantage

  1. Quote: “Overall, practicing Protestant women were seven times more likely to commit suicide than their Catholic counterparts, suggesting there really is a Catholic advantage. ”

    Interesting statistic. Have they done similar statistics on adultery and divorce?

    • Nothing in Bill Donohue’s book about statistics on adultery and divorce.

      I can’t find anything on the Internet about statistics on adultery, but plenty on divorce, for which I do not have the time to read or to compose a sufficient reply.

      The overall conclusion is less for Catholics than Protestants, and less for practicing Catholics than non-practicing ones, but nowhere near the level of seven times concerning suicide.

      Here are a few charts and summary paragraphs:

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      Catholic Divorce Rate
      According to research by the Barna Group, Catholics had one of the lowest incidences of divorce, with 28 percent having been divorced out of 875 interviewed. The Gospel Coalition noted that there is a somewhat significant difference between those who are actively practicing Catholics and those who consider themselves nominally Catholic. The coalition found that nominal Catholics are five percent less likely to divorce than non-religious persons, while Catholics who are actively practicing in their parishes are 31 percent less likely to get divorced than non-religious persons.

      Protestant Divorce Rate
      The Barna Group’s research found that Protestant individuals (anyone who identified themselves as non-Catholic, but Christian) had a divorce rate of approximately 34 percent out of a sampling of 1,997 individuals. The study was surprising in this regard, because out of all the adults interviewed (3792), the rate of divorce was 33 percent. However, the Gospel Coalition also found that active, conservative Protestants are 35 percent less likely to divorce than non-religious persons while non-active, conservative Protestants are 10 percent less likely to divorce than non-religious persons.

      The following chart shows the relative risk of divorce by religious affiliation among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish adherents …

      [Editor’s note: In reading the table, the numbers represent the likelihood of divorce compared to those with no religious affiliations. So 20% would mean that group is 20% more likely to divorce than Americans with no religious affiliations while -97% means the group is 97% less likely to divorce than the non-religious.]

      % Divorce Likelihood ReductionFaith Affiliation

      Protestant – Nominal
      20
      Protestant -Conservative
      -10
      Protestant – Active Conservative
      -35
      Catholic
      -18
      Catholic (nominal)
      -5
      Catholic – Active
      -31
      Jewish
      39
      Jewish (nominal)
      53
      Jewish – Active
      -97

  2. Quote: [O]nly those who regularly attend religious services are less likely to commit suicide. In other words, mere belief, and amorphous expressions of spirituality, aren’t enough to ward off the demons that trigger suicide. And no group is more at risk than atheists.

    Wave of suicides among bureaucrats due to the anti-corruption campaign

    Since 2012, when Xi Jinping came to power, at least 120 government representatives have committed suicide. From 2003 to 2012, under Hu Jintao, 63 killed themselves …

    6/28/16

    Beijing (AsiaNews /Agencies) – They drown into rivers; drink poisons; jump from bridges or from the upper floors of their offices: these are some of the ways that bureaucrats of the Chinese Communist Party choose to die to escape investigation and inspections. This is a bitter fruits of the anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping.

    Since 2012, when he rose to power as Secretary general of the Party and as president, he tried to stop the rampant corruption spread at all levels of government, putting tens of thousands of bureaucrats under investigation and punishing many with lengthy prison sentences.

    In this period, the number of deaths of government officials for “abnormal reasons” rose up to 120. That is almost double the 68 recorded suicides from 2003 to 2012 under his predecessor Hu Jintao.

    On the surface, the deaths of persons under investigation is an attempt to escape the humiliation of interrogations and public confessions …

    News of government officials’ suicides do not produce any sympathy in the population, as they think all bureaucrats are corrupt.

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