The role of religion in the acceptance of suicide: race as a moderating factor
How do cultural factors shape attitudes regarding the acceptability of suicide? The researcher proposes that a combination of certain religious aspects such as denominational affiliation, church attendance, afterlife beliefs, and biblical inerrancy –intertwined with race under specific circumstances—mold individual variations in suicide acceptance. The researcher tests relevant hypotheses using binary multivariate logistic regression models of pooled data from the 1972-2012 General Social Surveys (GSS), a random probability sample of the continental United States population (total n=28004). A number of religious variables, including denominational affiliation and beliefs concerning the Bible, are consistent predictors of suicide acceptance in the overall pooled sample. Findings also indicate that church attendance is significantly associated with suicide acceptance in some, but not all, circumstances examined in this study. Interactions between church attendance and race are significant in two out of the four suicide acceptance variables examined here. In addition to religious affiliation and Bible beliefs, race exhibits robust associations with suicide acceptance; African Americans are notably less accepting of suicide under most circumstances than non-Hispanic Whites from otherwise comparable backgrounds. Taken together, the findings underscore the important, yet complex, roles of both race and religion in shaping orientations toward suicide in the contemporary United States.