Spirituality & suicide?

Kia ora koutou,

For some time I’ve thought there is a relationship between spirituality and self-harm / suicide. However there is very little discussion, at least at in the public sphere, about this aspect of causes. Below is another study suggesting this relationship.



Compr Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 26;80:39-45. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2017.08.004. [Epub ahead of print]

The influence of spirituality and religiousness on suicide risk and mental health of patients undergoing hemodialysis.



Despite the large amount of literature assessing how spiritual and religious beliefs have an impact on mental health and suicide risk in various groups of patients, few studies have investigated patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether spirituality and religiousness (S/R) are associated with the presence of suicide risk as well as whether those beliefs are also associated with the presence of mental health problems in patients undergoing hemodialysis.


Cross-sectional study carried out in three Brazilian dialysis units involving hemodialysis patients. The study assessed religiousness (Duke Religion Index); spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp 12); mental health – depression and anxiety (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview-MINI); and risk of suicide (MINI). For analysis, adjusted logistic regression models were applied.


A total of 264 (80.7%) patients were included, 17.8% presented suicide risk, 14.0% presented current major depressive episode, and 14.7% presented generalized anxiety disorder. Concerning spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp 12), the subscale of “Meaning” was associated with lower risk of suicide, depression, and anxiety. The subscale “Peace” was associated with lower depression and anxiety, whereas the subscale “Faith” was associated with lower suicide risk and depression. Religiousness measures were not associated with the study outcomes.


Spiritual beliefs were associated with lower suicide risk and better mental health among hemodialysis patients. Factors related to spiritual well-being, such as “meaning”, “peace” and “faith” were more associated with the outcomes studied than religious involvement. Further studies are needed to replicate our findings in different cultural and religious settings.

2 thoughts on “Spirituality & suicide?

  1. Thanks Richard. I too have felt this, and from the pastoral work over the years spirituality has seemed an important but overlooked factor. The one-sided focus on mental or psychological health in the current discourse in the media and health sector disguises this, even in the important hui that focus on tikanga Maori as a way in. I read Emile Durkheim’s book Suicide years ago but in it he characterises “anomie” as one of the main social forces leading to suicide. “It is the “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals”. It is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community, and arises more generally from a mismatch between personal or group standards and wider social standards, or from the lack of a social ethic, which produces moral deregulation and an absence of legitimate aspirations. It is a nurtured condition”(lightly gleaned from Wikipedia).
    One of the traditional roles of spirituality and religion is to bind society together in an organic whole, but in throwing out the rule-bound nature of 19th century piety which spilled over into the 20th century, we cut the ties that bind us together, and, I would suggest, the consumer society has a vested interest in keeping it that way.

  2. Thanks for the reply and agreed – I always go back to that Durkheim idea as well. John Bluck et al., talk about the spiritual vacuum, which seems to me a synonym for anomie. We need some NZ based research into this.

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