Home » Disorders » Depression » Religiosity May Reduce Suicidal Thoughts in African-Americans
Religiosity May Reduce Suicidal Thoughts in African-Americans

Religiosity May Reduce Suicidal Thoughts in African-Americans

Research suggests religiosity among African-Americans helps to keep suicidal rates low despite the psychological stress of racism.

“African-Americans experience an inordinate amount of psychological strain through racial discrimination, leading to depression, hopelessness, and other high risk factors for suicide, but demonstrate significantly lower rates of suicide relative to European-Americans,” said Rheeda Walker, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Houston and principal researcher of a new study in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.

Investigators say the goal of the study is to assess suicide ideation (thinking about, considering or planning for suicide), depressive symptoms, intrinsic/extrinsic religiosity (religious orientation), and perceived racism.

Researchers studied a community sample of 236 African-American men and women.

Walker notes suicide does exist for African-Americans, but it’s rarely noticed and understudied. She cites suicide as one of the leading causes of death among African-Americans and that approximately, 1,900 African-American adults and youth die by suicide each year.

“There is a belief that if one creates psychological science and knowledge, such knowledge ought to apply universally to everyone. That is simply not the case,” said Walker. “We need to spend more time finding out what depression means for African-Americans and across ethnic groups.

“What does suicide look like for African Americans? Are there self-destructive behaviors that are suicidal, but not considered as suicide?”

The findings from Walker’s research provide evidence that perceived racism may play a role in suicide vulnerability.

The study’s contributions are important in the context of providing evidence that despite the harmful effects of racism, extrinsic religiosity (external motivation for being religious, such as meeting people, community conformity, cultural heritage, etc.) buffered these effects.

Moreover, previous research has discovered that people who experience high levels of stress experience relief in supportive religious settings.

In the current study, people who reported higher levels of more socially oriented, extrinsic religiosity did not report suicide ideation when experiencing symptoms of depression.

The study is the first to study the benefits of religiosity in an environment of perceived discrimination and depression.

“Although discrimination can have adverse emotional consequences, the findings suggest that the ‘use’ of religion perhaps to connect with others or to meet some other need can be emotionally helpful among individuals who experience racism,” said Walker.

In this context, Walker hopes religion might be used to obtain social cohesion and relief from emotional distress that might be experienced by others in similar circumstances.

Source: University of Houston

 
Woman praying photo by shutterstock.

Religiosity May Reduce Suicidal Thoughts in African-Americans

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Religiosity May Reduce Suicidal Thoughts in African-Americans. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/10/28/religiosity-may-reduce-suicidal-thoughts-in-african-americans/76678.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.