Having Multiple Children may Ward Off Suicide

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Georgia


    March 30th, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    So this is referring to keeping mothers from committing suicide, and not from keeping your children from committing suicide. At first glance I thought that the article was implying that the more children that are in a family the lower the rates of suicide would be among the siblings. That would be an interesting topic to pursue.

  • terry


    March 30th, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    although the results do prove that having more children reduces the possibility of a woman committing suicide, I doubt whether the same is true in regions outside of the country where the study was made…it does not follow the same pattern in other regions and this result can therefore be taken as a norm for that region only.

  • PH


    March 31st, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    I have to say …I do agree with this…having children gives you a sense of responsibility…and no person who has a responsibility on him/her would actually want to end his.her life…

  • liza evans

    liza evans

    March 31st, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Having children gives you something to live for and I’m sure this feeling is very strong for a mother, irrespective of which country or region she is from…the mother-child bond is a very strong and special one,one that can actually give a positive vibe to the mother and may in fact not let a woman think of suicide.

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