Swiss losing their religion are more suicidal

Researchers at Bern and Zurich universities have found that suicide rates are lower among people with an affiliation to one of Switzerland’s recognised churches.

This content was published on September 15, 2010 - 16:01
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Based on the 2000 census, there were 39 suicides for every 100,000 inhabitants with no church affiliation. In comparison, the figures for every 100,000 Protestants and 100,000 Catholics were 28.5 and 19.7 respectively.

The researchers from the universities’ social and preventive medicine institutes added that the Catholic Church’s condemnation of both suicide and assisted suicide may play a role in the low rate among Catholics.

Under certain conditions, assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland.

“Particularly non-religious persons consider assisted suicide as a way of deciding for themselves when to end their lives in old age,” said Matthias Egger from Bern University.

“The protective effect of a religious affiliation appears to be stronger in Catholics than in Protestants, stronger in older than in younger people, stronger in women than in men,” the authors concluded.

The suicide report is part of a larger study, the “Swiss National Cohort”, which investigates mortality in the entire population. It is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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