Religious Beliefs May Reduce the Negative Effect of Psychiatric Disorders on Age of Onset of Suicidal Ideation among Blacks in the United States

Shervin Assari, Maryam Moghani Lankarani, Babak Moazen


Objective: To evaluate the possible interaction between religious beliefs and psychiatric disorders among Black Americans.

Methods: In this study, we used data of 5181 adult Black Americans who had participated in National Survey of American Life (NSAL) from February 2001 to June 2003. Variables such as socio-demographics, religious beliefs, and psychiatric disorders were entered in a Cox regression to determine the possible interaction between psychiatric disorders (0, 1, ≥2) and the subjective religiosity on age of onset of suicidal thought among the participants. Main outcome was age of the first serious suicidal ideation.

Results: A dose-dependent effect of number of psychiatric disorders on suicidal ideation was observed. Psychiatric disorders had a higher impact on age of suicidal ideation among those with low self-reported religiosity.

Conclusion: Religious beliefs may buffer the effect of psychiatric disorders on suicidal thought. Blacks who are less religious and suffer psychiatric disorders are at the highest risk for early suicidal ideation.

Keywords: Religion, suicide, African Americans, mental disorders

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