Religion and assisted and non-assisted suicide in Switzerland: National Cohort Study
ABSTRACT In the 19th century, eminent French sociologist Emile Durkheim found suicide rates to be higher in the Protestant compared with the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. We examined religious affiliation and suicide in modern Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal.
The 2000 census records of 1,722,456 (46.0%) Catholics, 1,565,452 (41.8%) Protestants and 454,397 (12.2%) individuals with no affiliation were linked to mortality records up to December 2005. The association between religious affiliation and suicide, with the Protestant faith serving as the reference category, was examined in Cox regression models. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were adjusted for age, marital status, education, type of household, language and degree of urbanization.
Suicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants were 19.7 in Catholics (1664 suicides), 28.5 in Protestants (2158 suicides) and 39.0 in those with no affiliation (882 suicides). Associations with religion were modified by age and gender (P < 0.0001). Compared with Protestant men aged 35-64 years, HRs (95% CI) for all suicides were 0.80 (0.73-0.88) in Catholic men and 1.09 (0.98-1.22) in men with no affiliation; and 0.60 (0.53-0.67) and 1.96 (1.69-2.27), respectively, in men aged 65-94 years. Corresponding HRs in women aged 35-64 years were 0.90 (0.80-1.03) and 1.46 (1.25-1.72); and 0.67 (0.59-0.77) and 2.63 (2.22-3.12) in women aged 65-94 years. The association was strongest for suicides by poisoning in the 65-94-year-old age group, the majority of which was assisted: HRs were 0.45 (0.35-0.59) for Catholic men and 3.01 (2.37-3.82) for men with no affiliation; 0.44 (0.36-0.55) for Catholic women and 3.14 (2.51-3.94) for women with no affiliation.
In Switzerland, the protective effect of a religious affiliation appears to be stronger in Catholics than in Protestants, stronger in older than in younger people, stronger in women than in men, and particularly strong for assisted suicides.
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ABSTRACT: Legal in some European countries and US states, physician-assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia remain under debate in these and other countries. The aim of the study was to examine numbers, characteristics, and trends over time for assisted dying in regions where these practices are legal: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. This was a systematic review of journal articles and official reports. Medline and Embase databases were searched for relevant studies, from inception to end of 2012. We searched the websites of the health authorities of all eligible countries and states for reports on physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia and included publications that reported on cases of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. We extracted information on the total number of assisted deaths, its proportion in relation to all deaths, and socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of individuals assisted to die. A total of 1043 publications were identified; 25 articles and reports were retained, including series of reported cases, physician surveys, and reviews of death certificates. The percentage of physician-assisted deaths among all deaths ranged from 0.1%-0.2% in the US states and Luxembourg to 1.8%-2.9% in the Netherlands. Percentages of cases reported to the authorities increased in most countries over time. The typical person who died with assistance was a well-educated male cancer patient, aged 60-85 years. Despite some common characteristics between countries, we found wide variation in the extent and specific characteristics of those who died an assisted death.Medical care 08/2013; DOI:10.1097/MLR.0b013e3182a0f427 · 2.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Firearms are the most common method of suicide among young men in Switzerland. From March 2003 through February 2004, the number of Swiss soldiers was halved as a result of an army reform (Army XXI), leading to a decrease in the availability of guns nationwide. The authors investigated the patterns of the overall suicide rate and the firearm suicide rate before and after the reform. METHOD Using a naturalistic study design, the authors compared suicide rates before (1995-2003) and after the intervention (2004-2008) in the affected population (men ages 18-43) and in two comparison groups (women ages 18-44 and men ages 44-53). Data were received from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Interrupted time series analysis was used to control for preexisting temporal trends. Alternative methods (Poisson regression, autocorrelation analysis, and surrogate data tests) were used to check validity. RESULTS The authors found a reduction in both the overall suicide rate and the firearm suicide rate after the Army XXI reform. No significant increases were found for other suicide methods overall. An increase in railway suicides was observed. It was estimated that 22% of the reduction in firearm suicides was substituted by other suicide methods. The attenuation of the suicide rate was not compensated for during the follow-up years. Neither of the comparison groups showed statistically significant changes in firearm suicide rate and overall suicide rate. CONCLUSIONS The restriction of firearm availability in Switzerland resulting from the Army XXI reform was followed by an enduring decrease in the general suicide rate.American Journal of Psychiatry 07/2013; 170(9). DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12091256 · 14.72 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In Switzerland, assisted suicide is legal but there is concern that vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are more likely to die in this way than other people. We examined socio-economic factors associated with assisted suicide. We linked the suicides assisted by right-to-die associations during 2003-08 to a census-based longitudinal study of the Swiss population. We used Cox and logistic regression models to examine associations with gender, age, marital status, education, religion, type of household, urbanization, neighbourhood socio-economic position and other variables. Separate analyses were done for younger (25 to 64 years) and older (65 to 94 years) people. Analyses were based on 5 004 403 Swiss residents and 1301 assisted suicides (439 in the younger and 862 in the older group). In 1093 (84.0%) assisted suicides, an underlying cause was recorded; cancer was the most common cause (508, 46.5%). In both age groups, assisted suicide was more likely in women than in men, those living alone compared with those living with others and in those with no religious affiliation compared with Protestants or Catholics. The rate was also higher in more educated people, in urban compared with rural areas and in neighbourhoods of higher socio-economic position. In older people, assisted suicide was more likely in the divorced compared with the married; in younger people, having children was associated with a lower rate. Assisted suicide in Switzerland was associated with female gender and situations that may indicate greater vulnerability such as living alone or being divorced, but also with higher education and higher socio-economic position.International Journal of Epidemiology 02/2014; 43(2). DOI:10.1093/ije/dyu010 · 9.20 Impact Factor