Skip to main content
No Access

Denomination, Religious Context, and Suicide: Neo‐Durkheimian Multilevel Explanations Tested with Individual and Contextual Data1

Utrecht UniversityNijmegen University

In Suicide, Durkheim found that involvement in religious communities is inversely related to suicide risk. In this article, two explanations for this relationship are examined. One is that religious networks provide support. The other is that religious communities prohibit suicide. To examine these hypotheses, individual‐level data on suicide in the Netherlands from 1936 to 1973 are used. The results show that with an increase in the proportion of religious persons in a municipality, the chances of committing suicide decrease for every denomination in that municipality, as well as among nonchurch members. Furthermore, along with the secularization of Dutch society, the impact of religious composition on suicide wanes. These results contradict the network‐support mechanism and confirm the notion that religious communities have a general protective effect against suicide.