MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Priya Wickramaratne PhD
Associate Professor of Clinical
Biostatistics (in Psychiatry)
Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons
New York State Psychiatric Institute
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Approximately 12% of adolescents in the United States report having thoughts about attempting suicide. Moreover, suicide is a primary cause of death among females 15 to 19 years of age. Religious and spiritual beliefs have received little attention in previous research examining risk and protective factors of child and adolescent suicide. This study used data from a three-generation study of 214 children and adolescents from 112 nuclear families whose parents were at high or low risk for major depressive disorder to study the association of children and parent’s religious beliefs with risk of suicidal behavior in the children.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: A parent’s belief in the importance of religion was associated with a lower risk of suicidal behavior in their children regardless of the child’s own belief in the importance of religion and regardless of other known risk factors, such as a parent’s history of depression, suicidal behavior, and divorce.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our findings suggest that there may be alternative and additional ways to help children and adolescents at highest risk for suicidal behaviors. These include conducting a brief spiritual history with parents of children being brought in for psychiatric consultation, as well as assessing the child’s own religious beliefs and practices.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Since the current sample of parents and children had regional limitations regarding religious denominations represented (the majority were Christian) and all participants were Caucasian, future research should be conducted on samples with diverse religious denominations and ethnicities for generalizability of results.
Disclosures: This study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health
Svob C, Wickramaratne PJ, Reich L, et al. Association of Parent and Offspring Religiosity With Offspring Suicide Ideation and Attempts. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 08, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.2060
Editor’s note: This piece discusses suicide. If you have experienced suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide and want to seek help, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741 or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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