Suicide in the Muslim community; are we doing enough?
Inayat Kanji from Love Will Beat Hate seeks answers
Year after year, thousands of people around the world choose to end their lives by committing suicide. In 2018, there were 6,507 suicides in the UK and 352 in the Republic of Ireland; an 11.8% rise from previous years. These statistics are more than just numbers, they’re people, and they can’t go unspoken about any longer. It’s time to stop the stigma that surrounds suicide and open up a dialogue, so we can give the men and women who suffer from suicidal thoughts and tendencies the help they need.
People dealing with suicidal thoughts or tendencies go through an immense struggle internally, but it’s a battle not often seen from the surface. Suicide is such a stigmatised topic that many people feel too ashamed or afraid to speak about it, but the truth is speaking about it and seeking help could save thousands of lives.
While suicide in Islam is prohibited, the Muslim community is not untouched by this taboo subject. Muslim men and women who are dealing with severe depression can begin to feel isolated, helpless and a crushing sense of despair that will lead them to suicidal feelings. Suicide in Islam is Haraam, but if it is left out of conversation and its stigma carries on, then those of us who are silently suffering may sadly pay the greatest price.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, so take this opportunity and let your friends and family know that you are there for them and that it’s ok to come to you if they need support. Suicide Prevention Month shines a spotlight on a dire issue that is plaguing our community, but it also offers a chance for healing and change. Suicide is not a matter of having a lack of faith or a poor character, it’s an illness that needs to be acknowledged and treated.
This Suicide Prevention Month, Inayat Kanji from Penny Appeal’s Love Will Beat Hate campaign went out to seek answers regarding the taboo topic of suicide in Islam, and investigated what our community was doing for the brothers and sisters struggling with it in his latest episode of ‘On the Level’, produced by the Muslim Vibe. He interviewed two people who have struggled with suicidal tendencies, a religious leader and a mental health professional to find his answers.
One woman he spoke to explained that her struggles with depression started from a young age, and having gone untreated, it took her to a very dark place and had her considering ending her life, despite her love and faith in Allah (swt). She shared with him the moment she reached her breaking point; the moment she knew she needed help:
“I couldn’t stop crying because I could not believe that I had reached that point. Never did I think that I would actually get to that point where I just wanted to finish, but the only thing that held me back was the fact that I was a Muslim and that it is forbidden for me to actually act upon it. Despite having my plan in place, despite having everything ready, despite having self-harmed, I thought the best thing to do was check in to hospital, which is the last resort, and I did. ”
Another man Inayat spoke to tried to commit suicide multiples times in his youth, but has since then used his faith to heal and takes solace in the understanding that he is capable of handling anything that comes his way because “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” (2:286). When speaking of his recovery, he explained,
“I’m not cured because nothing goes wrong in my life anymore; I’m cured because I have developed a way of coping.”
Islamic scholars and medical professionals are working to open up the dialogue on suicide, and find better ways to treat our brothers and sisters. Our communities are becoming more open to the conversation as well, but we all need to play our part to help those around us. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to our friends, our family and the members of our community to be there for them, and listen to them when they reach out – not with judgement or condemnation, but with compassion.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is help available. Don’t struggle with these feelings alone; speak to a healthcare professional or someone you trust immediately.
WEDNESDAY 18 SEP 2019