Parental Religiosity May Lower Risk for Suicidal Ideation in Offspring

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This study suggests that parental spirituality may affect offspring mental health, particularly regarding suicidal behaviors.
This study suggests that parental spirituality may affect offspring mental health, particularly regarding suicidal behaviors.

Parental belief in religious importance was associated with lower risk for suicidal behavior in children, according to study data published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers extracted data on 214 distinct offspring (6-18 years old; 52.3% girls) from 112 families in an existing study on major depressive disorder risk between family generations. Participant psychiatric diagnoses and suicidal behaviors were captured via the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia. Additional sociodemographic information was collected, including depression risk status according to family history. Religiosity was defined by 2 primary factors: belief in religious importance and frequency of religious service attendance.

The mean ages (standard deviation) of offspring and parent participants were 12.5 (3.5) years and 39.8 (5.3) years, respectively. Among the offspring cohort, 85% belonged to a Christian religious denomination and 63% were in the high-risk group for major depression based on family history. Parental belief in religious importance was associated with lower risk for suicide among offspring (odds ratio [OR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.39-0.96), regardless of the child's own spiritual beliefs. When stratified by sex, parental religious importance was associated with lower risk for suicidal behavior among girls (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.33-0.70), though not boys (OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.74-1.80). Similarly, parental religious attendance was associated with lower risk for suicidal behavior in girls (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.49-0.84) but not boys (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.69-1.27). However, these between-sex differences were not statistically significant. Overall, parental religious attendance was not found to be a predictive factor for offspring suicidal behavior. Among offspring, increasing religious importance among girls was associated with decreased risk for suicidal behavior (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.33-0.70; P <.001). No similar interaction was observed for boys, and the observed religiosity by sex interaction was significant (P <.05). These findings were independent of parental depression, parental suicide ideation, or parental marital status.

This study suggests that parental spirituality may affect offspring mental health, particularly regarding suicidal behaviors. Such information may be useful to clinicians in assessing and treating patient risk factors for suicide ideation.

Disclosures: Please see reference for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Svob C, Wickramaratne PJ, Reich L, et al. Association of parent and offspring religiosity with offspring suicide ideation and attempts [published online August 8, 2018]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.2060

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