June 11, 2018

Atheist Hemant Mehta is Wrong About Reduced Suicide and Religion

Shortly after Anthony Bourdain Committed suicide, atheist Hemant Mehta, who runs the "Friendly Atheist" website, was incensed that someone pointed out that there is a correlation between a religious and spiritual lifestyle and reduced suicide attempts based on scientific research.

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue correctly pointed out a statistical fact: "...there is an inverse relationship between religiosity and suicide: those who are regular churchgoers have a much lower rate of suicide than atheists like Bourdain."[1]

And Hemant Mehta responded, "Donohue, as you’d expect, doesn’t understand what the data shows." Mehta elaborated by claiming that the main factor in such studies is social, not religious:

"Donohue, as you’d expect, doesn’t understand what the data shows. Casting logic aside and believing in God will not cure an addiction or prevent suicide. Being part of a tight-knit community, having a social support network, and having people to turn to in times of need can help. For some people, religion provides that. But it’s not the only option. An atheist group, a sorority, a sports team, an improv group, etc. can all serve those purposes."[2]

However, a 2004 study reveals that aspects of a religious life were isolated from other aspects, such as mere social aspects, and thus Hemant Mehta is wrong.[3]

"CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention."

In the study's conclusion, there are apparent "moral objections" that may accompany the existence of God and a "lower aggression level" that can be associated with knowing God personally.

I believe it's important to point out that the subject of religion in studies contains people that view religion more in terms of ritual and others that view a more important aspect of living a dynamic spiritual life in relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Based on his own preconceptions, atheist Hemant Mehta is adamant that religion is not a factor towards reducing attempted suicide. There was a sense of anger by Hemant Mehta that spirituality and religion would be a possible help to people to the extent that he ended up promoting falsehoods on his website. The fact is, knowing God is the greatest factor in the life of a devout Christian regarding all other aspects of life. Whether or not a person suffers from clinical physical depression, knowing God and practicing a life of spiritual devotion is helpful. There were many warning signs in the lives of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain before they took their lives and these were reviewed in a separate post. 



[2] The Friendly Atheist, Catholic League: Anthony Bourdain Might Still Be Alive If He Had Found God

[3] Dervic, Kanita; Oquendo, Maria A.; Grunebaum, Michael F.; Ellis, Steve; Burke, Ainsley K.; Mann, J. John (2004-12-01). "Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt". American Journal of Psychiatry. 161 (12): 2303–2308. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.12.2303. ISSN 0002-953X. PMID 15569904.

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