Now here's an interesting study that may need more (or maybe less) study:
That is, people who regularly attend worship services seem less inclined to kill themselves. They note that this lower risk seems not to be prevalent in people who describe themselves as "spiritual" but who don't attend services.
Daniel Rasic, the primary author of the study, indicates that it's not possible to tell from the research he and his colleagues have done why worship attendance would lower the risk of suicide.
Well, I can't prove what I'm about to say is true, but I can hazzard a reasonable guess or two about the research findings.
Regular worship attendance puts people into a community. And faith communities tend to be (tend to be, not always are) supportive of their members. That is, people who are part of such communities often feel valued and cared for. I personally find it impossible to get through a Sunday morning at my church without people inquiring about how I'm doing and how my kids and grandkids are doing and what I'm up to and whether my wife and I are going to be attending this or that church event.
So I'm guessing that it's harder for people to get utterly despondent to the point of suicide if they know that others support them and value them. Suicide still happens among regular worship attenders, of course, because sometimes mental illness occurs and cannot be overcome in this way.
But I'm so sure that being part of a supportive faith community is a large part of the "why" of this new study that I think it would be a waste of money to offer a grant to university researchers to come to the same conclusion.
* * *
A NEW WAY AHEAD WITH MUSLIMS
Especially after all the campaign nonsense about Barack Obama being a Muslim, I was pleased that in his inauguration address he called for a new way forward in relations with Muslims and predominantly Muslim countries around the world. This analysis finds Muslims quite willing to get engaged in that new way, though after eight years of Bush administration policies they naturally want to see action more than they want to hear words. As it happened, I was with a few Muslim friends the evening of the inauguration and they were quite thrilled that the U.S. was entering a new presidential era.