Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Motherhood and suicide

In 1897 Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, put forward the idea that being a parent makes people less likely to kill themselves. Because of the relatively-low numbers of suicides it has been quite hard to test this theory but a team of researchers led by Dr Chun-Yuh Yang from Kaoshiung Medical University looked at data on 1,292,462 women over a 20-year period. They found that mothers were less likely to kill themselves. Women who had two children were 39% less likely to take their lives than women with one and women with three children were 60% less likely. The researchers thought that having children raised mothers' happiness and self-esteem and that mothers tended to have more supportive social networks. Another reason, of course, could be that the responsibility of looking after children makes it very difficult for mothers to end their lives.

You can find out more about this research at


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