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Motherhood Linked to Lower Risk of Death by Suicide

Last Updated: March 24, 2010.

Women who have children are at lower risk of committing suicide, with the risk decreasing with increasing numbers of children, according to a study published online March 22 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have children are at lower risk of committing suicide, with the risk decreasing with increasing numbers of children, according to a study published online March 22 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

To examine whether the number of live births is associated with risk of death from suicide in women, and noting that suicide rates continue to increase in Taiwan, with more women affected than in Western countries, Chun-Yuh Yang, Ph.D., from Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan analyzed data from 1,292,462 Taiwanese women who had a first live birth from 1978 to 1987.

The researchers found that there were 2,252 deaths from suicide, with a suicide-related mortality of 6.94 per 100,000 person-years. After adjusting for age at first birth, marital status, education, and place of delivery, increasing number of live births was associated with a lower risk of death from suicide, with a hazard ratio of 0.61 in women with two live births and a hazard ratio of 0.40 in women with three or more live births, compared to women with one live birth.

"I found that increasing parity was associated with decreasing rates of death from suicide," Yang concludes. "This finding adds evidence to support Durkheim's hypothesis that parenthood confers a protective effect against suicide."

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