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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 61 (2019) 12, 837 - 844


Reformed pietists: higher risk for suicide? A retrospective cohort study on the incidence of suicides in a christian institute for mental health care

A.A. de Lely, H. Schaap-Jonker, A.W. Braam

background In scientific literature, active commitment to a religious community is considered to be a protective factor against suicidal behavior. However, it is assumed that this protective effect does not apply to ‘reformed pietists’ or strict Calvinists, an orthodox-protestant group in the Netherlands.
aim To explore whether the incidence of suicide is higher among reformed pietists than among other Christian patients of Eleos, a Dutch christian institute for mental health care.
method A retrospective cohort study was conducted over the period 2000-2017. All evaluating reports, which were written after a suicide, were analyzed.
results In the period 2000-2017 28 evident suicides were committed. The number of suicides among reformed pietistic patients was about 10 times lower than among other Christian patients.
conclusion The assumption that reformed pietists run a relatively high risk for suicide does not have adequate grounds. In case of risk assessment, reformed pietistic affiliation might be considered to be more a protecting than a risk-increasing factor for suicide.

keywords protecting factors, reformed pietists, religion, suicide