Effect of religion on suicide attempts in outpatients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorders compared with inpatients with non-psychotic disorders

Huguelet Philippe, Mohr Sylvia, Jung Valérie, Gillièron Christiane, Brandt Pierre-Yves, Borras Laurence, 2007/04. European Psychiatry, 22 (3) pp. 188-194.

Little is known of the relations between psychosis, religion and suicide. One hundred and fifteen outpatients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder and 30 inpatients without psychotic symptoms were studied using a semi-structured interview assessing religiousness/spirituality. Their past suicide attempts were examined. Additionally, they were asked about the role (protective or incentive) of religion in their decision to commit suicide. Forty-three percent of the patients with psychosis had previously attempted suicide. Religiousness was not associated with the rate of patients who attempted suicide. Twenty-five percent of all subjects acknowledged a protective role of religion, mostly through ethical condemnation of suicide and religious coping. One out of ten patients reported an incentive role of religion, not only due to negatively connotated issues but also to the hope for something better after death. There were no differences between groups (i.e. psychotic vs. non-psychotic patients). Religion may play a specific role in the decisions patients make about suicide, both in psychotic and non-psychotic patients. This role may be protective, a finding particularly important for patients with psychosis who are known to be at high risk of severe suicide attempts. Interventions aiming to lower the number of suicide attempts in patients with schizophrenia should take these data into account.