Evidence for an association between suicide and religion: a 33-year retrospective autopsy analysis of suicide by hanging during the month of Ramadan in Istanbul
Yazici, Yuksel Aydin
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This study was undertaken to examine the effect of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on the number of suicides in order to assess whether religious faith is associated with a decreased number of suicides during that period. In this retrospective study, a total number of 82,871 autopsies have been performed in the Morgue Department of the Council of Forensic Medicine (Istanbul) of the Ministry of Justice between 1978 and 2012, 33years. For the study purposes, the earlier start of Islamic calendar months (i.e. 10 or 11days earlier each year) compared with the Gregorian calendar was taken into account and file details such as crime scene investigation reports, information obtained from the police, and autopsy results were assessed. Of the 4315 suicide cases, 267 were reported during Ramadan, while 4048 were recorded during other months. Of the 33years examined, only five Ramadan months exhibited a suicide rate above the annual average and there was a significantly lower (p = 0.042) incidence of suicides during Ramadan. Suicide by hanging is less frequent during Ramadan compared with non-Ramadan months, probably reflecting a positive spiritual influence of this period on Muslims.