Motherhood May Protect Against Suicide

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A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CAMJ) discovered that motherhood appears to decrease the chances that a mother will take her own life. More importantly, the study found that the more children they have, the less likely these mothers will suicide.

The study followed women in Taiwan for over 20 years and discovered that parenthood is protective against suicide. Researchers found a 39% decrease in suicide-related mortality among women with two children and a 60% decrease among women with three or more children. This was then compared to women with just one child.

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There has been a limited number of studies conducted on this however, this study is significant because of its large size and the number of deaths from suicides. In fact, 1,292,462 women were studied making it the largest studies on this topic.

This theory is actually quite an old theory. The idea that this connection actually existed is over one hundred years old. It was first put forward by Emile Durkheim who was a well-known sociologist, back in 1897. He had suggested that parenthood protected people against suicide. Sadly, it took more than a century for Durkheim theory to be proven.

“A clear tendency was found toward decreasing suicide rates with increasing number of children after controlling for age at first birth, marital status, years of schooling, and place of delivery. The protective effect of parity on risk of death from suicide was much stronger than previously reported estimates. Given that the women included in this study were young (the large majority of suicide-related deaths occurred before pre-menopausal age) and were among the youngest reported for any country, this finding is particularly noteworthy,” says Kaoshiung Medical University professor Dr. Chun-Yuh Yang.

The study further suggested that women who have several children spend a great deal of their lives caring for young children compared with mothers who have one child. Chun-Yuh Yang added that children are likely to increase a mother's feelings of self-worth. Offspring also provide emotional and material support to a mother and provide her with a positive social role. Not only is that a factor, but often, motherhood enhances social networks and social support.

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