The more children a woman has, the less likely she is to commit suicide, a Taiwanese researcher said Friday, summarising a study of more than 2,000 mothers who took their own lives.

The study, to be published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, serves as evidence against the notion that a large number of children would lead to more suicides because of the extra stress on mothers.

"Women tend to find solace and support from their children from marital problems, especially in patriarchal Asian societies," said Yang Chun-yuh, the author of the study.

Women with three children are 60 percent less likely to commit suicide than those with one child, according to the study, the first of its kind in Asia.

The study analysed 2,252 Taiwanese women who had a first live birth between 1978 and 1987 and committed suicide by 2007, the end of the study period.

The study supports classical French sociologist Emile Durkheim's theory that parenthood confers a protective effect against suicide, said Yang, a public health expert at Kaohsiung Medical University.

"Women feel that they are needed and they have responsibilities to bring up their children and they are less likely to take their lives during setbacks," he said.

Suicide is among the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan, where birth rates have dwindled to one of the world's lowest.

The island's birth rate stood at 8.29 births per 1,000 people last year, government data showed. That compares with a global average of more than 20 births per 1,000 people, according to the United Nations.