‘Spirituality Boosts Positive Wellbeing, Helps In Suicide Prevention’ — Study

The connection between spirituality and well-being, including its benefits for physical and mental health, has been recognized in Eastern cultures for a very long time. A study of 160 Indian students from a spiritually oriented university in North India shows that spirituality has a positive impact on students’ well-being with a potential protective effect against suicidal behaviour.

With the goal of examining how spirituality affects well-being and, potentially, suicidality among young Indians, this study—which was published in the journal Religions—combines methods from medical anthropology, clinical and community psychology, and cultural psychiatry. This approach reflects a multifaceted understanding of spirituality. The higher risk of suicide in this age range is the reason it was selected.

Religiousness and spirituality are strongly linked to health and wellbeing

A person can view spirituality as a path that offers them a variety of objectives, including self-improvement, a sense of connection to God or the sacred, and the formation of certain ideals or the performance of rituals as a means of achieving more significant objectives.

People can expand their own social network and form social bonds by joining religious and spiritual communities. Conversely, social support can benefit health in other ways, such as lessening the negative consequences of stress. A person may choose to live a healthy lifestyle and abstain from harmful activities because of their religion.

Meaning in life, or purposefulness, is another significant factor that can be viewed as a psychological mechanism that supports the connection between spirituality and well-being. Higher levels of psychological and physical well-being can be attained by those who have a feeling of purpose in life. This is especially true in the prevention of suicidal conduct.

The formation of a person’s spiritual identity and the integration of spirituality into a sense of self are significant aspects of spirituality that are also associated with well-being.

For this study, a qualitative methodology was used because it enables us to investigate the underlying meaning of a concept such as spirituality and to document the contextual knowledge of the connection between spirituality and/or religion and mental health, suicide, and overall wellness.

Spirituality enhances strong protective factors against suicide

The participants’ responses highlighted several crucial components, including self-awareness, a sense of connectedness, strategies for redefining and finding meaning in adversity, and having positive values and significance because of spirituality—all of which are known to be potent preventative factors against suicide.

Most participants reported that, in various ways, their spiritual, religious, and personal beliefs enhanced their well-being and prevented suicidal behaviour in trying situations. Several participants mentioned using spiritual or religious coping mechanisms during trying times.

“Participants indicated that they receive direct social support from spiritual people like their guru and religious leader, teachers, relatives, and friends from the same religious community, or in an indirect way by being in a spiritual environment, like the university, and taking part in the religious community. Participants also indicated that their large social network helped them in difficult times, by offering support and advice, including when they felt depressed,” explain authors Rekha Wagani, Amity Institute of Behavioural and Allied Sciences, and Erminia Colucci, Department of Psychology, Middlesex University London.   

Spirituality should be regularly included as a holistic approach to mental health and suicide prevention

The 160 students who participated in this study who belonged to a spiritual community and actively engaged in spiritual activities generally stated that spirituality gives them a sense of purpose in life, even in the face of adversity, such as when they are experiencing psychological distress.

They emphasized the significance of spirituality for self-awareness and for developing through in-depth introspection of one’s daily and professional lives. Most of the sample stated that rules and practices like yoga and meditation are ways that spirituality and/or religion provide them with a way of life.

Roughly 50% of the participants stated that they find solace in their spiritual and religious convictions, that they employ spiritual or religious coping mechanisms during trying times, and that they gain social support from other members of their spiritual or religious group or from spiritual leaders.

Finally, a few participants mentioned how having a spiritual life improves their sense of hope and faith, which in turn affects their overall welfare.

Consequently, this study adds to the corpus of research showing that spirituality and religion in general guard against suicide. “In conclusion, because of its generally positive link with wellbeing and positive emotions and coping strategies, spirituality/religion should be regularly included in a (holistic) approach to mental health and suicide prevention, instead of being generally neglected, as argued over a decade ago,” say researchers.



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Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.

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