Study: People who attend church are less likely to die from despair

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Governments that have been quick to disallow church attendance during the coronavirus outbreak might actually be harming more than protecting their citizens’ health.

A new study out of Harvard has found that healthcare professionals who go to religious services at least weekly are less prone to despair-related deaths such as suicide, reports mogaznews.

Whether it’s a cause-and-effect relationship is unclear. Church attendance could simply be a trait of people who deal with problems in healthier ways in general.

Women who went to services weekly had a 68 per cent lower risk of death from despair compared to those never attended, researchers found. Men who attend church weekly, meanwhile, had a 33 per cent lower risk of death from fatal illnesses resulting from drug and alcohol use.

The Harvard team looked at data of more than 100,000 doctors and nurses to determine that religious activity may foster “a sense of hope and meaning” amid work that can lead to sad and troubled thoughts. Religious belief also nurtures a view of the human body as a “temple” worthy of care and not to be contaminated with harmful substances.

Healthcare workers have a suicide rate more than twice that of the rest of the population, which may be partly associated with chronic burnout at work – a statistic that could be enhanced by the current virus pandemic.

The results suggest religious services can help ward off suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 crisis, especially for medical staff under heavy pressure.

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