Suicide is of great concern to those involved in psychology and psychotherapy, especially as rates of suicide rise in some parts of the world. While suicide is certainly prevalent in developed nations, it is often seen as more of a concern in the developing world, where the ratio between instances of male and female suicide is significantly less biased towards males. Aiming to capture the particular trends of this population, an extensive study to discern the effects of motherhood on the suicide rates of Taiwanese women has recently concluded. The study followed over a million women over the course of twenty years, gathering sufficient data to establish credible and widely applicable results.
During the course of the study, information about the women and their number of children was recorded, and controls were established for various factors such as marital status and education level. Over two-thousand women covered by the study committed suicide during the study period, yielding a large sample with which to work. The study found that those women who had two or three children were at a significant advantage in terms of avoiding suicide, and the advantage appeared to increase for each child that was born. While reports of rising rates of post-partum depression in some areas may lead expectant mothers to believe that having a baby may threaten their mental or emotional stability, the study suggests that the opposite may be true, at least as far as life-threatening suicidal thoughts and behaviors are concerned.
The study has largely contributed to providing evidence for the hypothesis of nineteenth century sociologist Emile Durkheim, who proposed that motherhood may help prevent suicide. The results may also indicate the power of social networks and other benefits associated with having children.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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