HealthDay News — Parental belief in the importance of religion is associated with a decrease in risk in suicidal behavior in their offspring, according to a study published online Aug. 8 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Connie Svob, PhD, from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues examined associations of parent and offspring religiosity with suicide ideation and attempts in offspring. Data came from a three-generation family study (214 offspring from 112 nuclear families) in New York State.

The researchers found that offspring religious importance was associated with a lower risk for suicidal behavior in girls (odds ratio [OR], 0.48; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 0.33 to 0.70), but not in boys (OR, 1.15; 95 % CI, 0.74 to 1.80) (religiosity by sex interaction, P = 0.05). Similarly, religious attendance was associated with a lower risk for suicidal behavior in girls (OR, 0.64; 95 % CI, 0.49 to 0.84), but not boys (OR, 0.94; 95 % CI, 0.69 to 1.27) (religiosity by sex interaction, P = 0.17). Furthermore, lower risk of offspring suicidal behavior was associated with parent religious importance (OR, 0.61; 95 % CI, 0.41 to 0.91), but not parent religious attendance.

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“In this study, parental belief in religious importance was associated with lower risk for suicidal behavior in offspring independent of an offspring’s own belief about religious importance and other known parental factors, such as parental depression, suicidal behavior, and divorce,” the authors write. “Among various risk factors for suicidal behavior in offspring, parental religious beliefs should not be overlooked.”

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