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The Suicide Talk: Where Do We Go From Here?

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Life can be difficult, but it does not have to be impossible. Thoughtfulness can save lives, and it is time that the topic of suicide is not brushed off as nothing more than a cry for attention.

As a therapist and a life coach with over 5 years of experience, I know that life’s obstacles can sometimes feel virtually impossible to get through. From my experiences of working with victims of domestic violence and doing individual therapy, breaking points can be difficult to recover from. Without the ability to empathize, what you might see as minor could be seen as traumatizing or impactful for someone else.

Sara* was bright. Due to her high school accomplishments, her future was already determined. She would attend a high-ranking university, major in a degree that is considerably difficult, and acquire a high GPA. She would then go on to have a great job, get married, and raise super-accomplished kids. Or so the world thought. The reality is that the weight of university became too overwhelming for her to handle, so she dropped out. Her struggle with depression was a difficult obstacle that she faced daily. It soon became more than she could take. Yesterday, Sara said goodbye to the world. Her own world became too much to handle. As an escape, she resorted to suicide.

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As you read her story and you catch yourself returning to specific details that speak to you, you wonder out loud, “Just who was this girl?” First and foremost, Sara was a beloved daughter. This young lady was a caring sister, a good friend, and a once bright and dedicated student. She was also Muslim. Her story tugs on your heart strings because to a certain extent you can relate to it. If you have been through college, you know the overwhelming stress that comes with wanting to please your parents, the desire to do incredibly well, and the pressure to become successful.

The feeling of being pushed past your limits in order to achieve the impossible is something you are familiar with. It might have worked for you, but it does not always work for everyone. You also know the pressure of having to fit into the real world, or the disappointment when you discover that sometimes your competition makes you look less than average. If not you (but let us be honest, everyone struggles), then you know someone that has struggled or is currently struggling. Like everyone else, the thought of someone mentioning suicide is a subject you fear even touching. While the majority of people are able to put this thought to the side after their mental struggles disappear, for some it becomes an irreversible action.

While there is limited open dialogue regarding suicide, there are common risk factors that should be noted. Some of these factors include:
1. Conflicting opinions with parents regarding life choices. This could be related to prospective spouse, academics, and career choices.
2. Depression. It is possible that a person could have depression and not receive treatment for it, due to feeling ashamed of having to seek mental health treatment.

3. Low self-esteem. Having a continuous streak of bad self-esteem can make life very difficult for someone to live life on a daily basis.
4. Recent loss. Not knowing how to properly deal with a social death or a permanent death can become a risk factor for some.
5. Feeling isolated. This is especially true for college students, who are often times separated from their family and friends.

Unfortunately, suicide is a taboo subject to discuss. A Muslim girl commits suicide and the focus is immediately on how she ruined her afterlife. There is little talk about the struggle she had with depression (which is also taboo to discuss) or the fact that she was more than just depressed and suicidal, but that she was also funny and outgoing with a creative mind and a genuinely loving personality. It could be that she loved God so much, but her worldly struggles heavily blocked her from having that relationship she always dreamed of having with her Creator. God knows, but we know not. What I do know is that sometimes thoughts of suicide are inevitable for those that find life to be a daily struggle. It does not help that the majority of the time, these struggles go unheard of. There are many times where a suicide is not mentioned in the Muslim community because of fear that it might affect the family’s name, or worse, it might make people believe that the person that succumbed to the pressures of this world had a mental illness.

I ask myself, “Where do we go from here?” While it is unfortunately too late to save the lives that have been lost, maybe this recent story can pave the way for a change of thought. More importantly, it could contribute to a necessary change of heart. God’s mercy prevails over His wrath, so maybe it is time for us to be more merciful towards others. It is time to accept the fact that even Muslims can become suicidal when life gets difficult. How hard is it to feel empathetic enough to tell a struggling soul, “You do not have to hide your voice when it becomes weak and shaky. ” It could be a huge relief for someone to hear “You are not a bad Muslim for not wanting to be here right now. “ Our aim should be to talk to the person that is struggling, rather than to talk at them.

It is so easy to preach something that they might already be well aware of, rather than listen to what is holding them back from practicing what it is you are attempting to preach to them. From the area of college stress, maybe you need to learn how to lay off a bit and let your child enjoy being a college student. Ask yourself, “Is the stress I am putting on my child helping them become more successful? Am I part of why they are not enjoying what they are studying or doing?”

For someone struggling with suicidal tendencies, it is so important to put judgment aside, and ask the simple question, “How can I be here for you?” From my experiences as a therapist and as someone that has worked directly with clients that are suicidal, this could possibly be a long term circumstance. Unconditional support is crucial. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it might just be that this light is lit by unconditional support and a sincere desire to simply listen. Your change of heart could be the reason another heart continues to beat.

*Name of person edited for respect of confidentiality.

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Chereen is a therapist, as well as a certified learning, leadership, and change life coach. She enjoys writing, reading, coaching, and offering advice. You can find her daily inspirational posts on instagram: @dearchereen.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Cass

    March 5, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    Great article. Too many times people who are seriously depressed are pushed away and told that this is all a result of their low faith. We need to help these people, not judge and put them down further.

  2. AN

    March 5, 2016 at 11:56 PM

    This article is written incredibly. It’s so hard to think about a person with faith to have thoughts like this but this article really opens your eyes to what reality may be. And inshallah this will help those who are struggling to speak to anyone about those thoughts and maybe, could save their life. Wonderful, eye-opening article!

  3. Peter Copley

    March 7, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    Very thoughtful article. South Africa has 200 attempted suicides daily. 20 of these are successful. This compares with 46 road accident deaths a day and about 49 murders a day.

  4. Pingback: » What Every Muslim Ought to Know About Suicide

  5. Jeremy Boulter

    March 18, 2016 at 4:52 AM

    I really love the thought put into this article. It makes me think of my own children, especially my oldest boy who loves to lead from the front. Now, in a new environment, he struggles to even be on a par with his peers in certain subjects. Not surprising, really. He’s never been outstanding in math and English is a new language to him. It also makes me think of a revelation I received from my partner concerning her father’s end. I must take heed, and other people with high expectations should heed the article, too. Indeed suicide is a sin, but I imagine Allah knows the mitigating circumstances of those upon whom oppression and unmitigating pressure has exhausted their patience to the utter limit. Wal Asr; inn all insaana la fiy khusr; Illaladiyna aaminu, wa’amilus solihaati, watawa sobil-haqqi, watawa sobis-sabr. By the even! Verily, mankind are in a state of loss; except those who believe, and do good deeds, and spread the Truth, and commend patience.

  6. Sabrina

    March 18, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    Your article moved me to tears. As someone who has considered suicide several times, I can totally relate. Life just gets too difficult at times, and it doesn’t help when you have no one to turn to – to confide in, no one who would understand. As a Muslim, I know it is a sin, but just ending your misery in this world can be so very tempting. A lot of times, we know we need help, but there is no place to turn to, no resources, no one who wouldn’t judge. My friends and family have no any idea that behind my extroverted demeanor lies a miserable soul. I have returned from the brink of suicide dozens of times, and I’m grateful to God for holding my hand and guiding me back; but I am constantly afraid of what I might do someday when / if I had a weak moment and acted on these thoughts…..thank you for doing your bit to help people like me.

    • Saima

      March 18, 2016 at 9:43 PM

      Sabrina, I pray that you find that constant peace that we search in moments of turmoil. I pray that you will find that heart, which understands and comforts you, Ameen!

      • Sabrina

        March 18, 2016 at 11:29 PM

        Thank you for your compassion, Saima. Please keep me in your prayers.

    • A Grieving Brother

      March 20, 2016 at 4:13 AM

      Sister, my brother committed suicide not too long ago. The only thing I can think to tell you is, you have no idea how much love you’re surrounded in, how many people truly care about your well-being, and how many people will be deeply devastated at your departure if you go. And i know that’s not enough sometimes, it wasn’t enough for my sibling, but maybe there’s comfort in this knowledge. May Allah protect you, heal your grief, and let those around you exhibit a portion of the Infinite love He has for you. May He also forgive my brother, and all of us.

      As a side note, we don’t mention this often enough, but getting professional help is not a sign of weakness of iman. We would have had much less time with my bro had we not gotten him on meds, it may not have rescued him ultimately, but it often can. You will need a ton patience and an excellent support system, because finidng the right combination of talk therapy and/or meds (if necessary) can take a while, but stick with it. This may not apply to your situation, but in case it does, I humbly suggest considering it

      • Sabrina

        March 23, 2016 at 3:31 PM

        Dear Brother, Thank you for your kind words – I’m so sorry for your loss; may Allah SWT have mercy on his soul and on us all, aameen.

        Something I hadn’t mentioned in my previous post is that I attempted suicide a long time ago when I was a tween. Alhamdolillah I did not succeed, for I would not have been able to do some speck of good that I have been able to (I hope it counts in the eyes of the Almighty). I have been a school teacher for many years now, and it breaks my heart to think of how my suicide might affect my students when they hear of it.

        I suppose people do love me – at least they say so; but when you don’t like yourself, it can be hard to believe that you are lovable. Thank you for your kindness – you have no idea how much I appreciate it.

    • Jennifer

      March 21, 2016 at 3:24 PM

      Assalaamu alaykum Sabrina, I urge you to keep this phone number at hand. This first number is for a suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255 or for help with situational depression, call the Muslim helpline at 1-866-NASEEHA. Try to find someone to talk to, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

      • Sabrina

        March 23, 2016 at 3:44 PM

        Wa alaikum assalam Jennifer, I really appreciate your help. I live in KSA and help is not easy to find. Nonetheless, I have noted down the number you have given so that I can find help when I’m feeling suicidal.

        It would surprise you to know that I’m known to be the strongest, most confident and outgoing of all my siblings; I also come across as someone with high EQ – all of which is actually kind of sad…considering my suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, one is only seen as scared or fragile or someone with low self-esteem when they make a confession regarding suicide or try to seek professional help. c’est la vie. Thank you for taking the time to point me int he right direction; May Allah SWT reward you for your kindness.

    • Pam

      March 28, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      ASAK, Sr Sabrina, please seek support. You may need medication for depression and/or anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy can really help. You can develop coping skills to mitigate your bad feelings. Time passes and life situations can improve but not if you’re not here anymore, Subhannallah. Sometimes what seems impossible (getting help) is the thing that can turn your whole life around. Schools and colleges have counseling centers, your regular physician can prescribe meds. It’s confidential. Find support, Insha’Allah this will make all the difference. I will remember you in my du’ah, Insha’Allah.

  7. Tonho

    March 18, 2016 at 2:11 PM

    Love everything, be attached to nothing.
    I dealt with borderline depression, and my sys tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, I am the happier one (many times by need to cheer others) , so I must exercise positive affirmations DAILY , in order to keep my mind right, focusing on forward, cause we live our present and future goals based on our expectations, for things under our control.
    I am just saying that we control our mind. Our mind does not control us. Moslem, Christian, Jew,all have the ability to do this. It’s beyond faith…the answer is compassion for everyone, regardless of their faith…
    Unfortunatly this girl could not overcome…in school the system is not setup to teach about compassion, community, and unconditional love. Religion divide is destroying humanity in some form, because people don’t understand that our core is energy, atoms…regardless of religion…the law of attraction works…one could argue that the energy is “divine” or is God, and thats all good and acceptable..
    Like Wayne Dyer talked about, this divine sour of energy is giving, forgiving, loving, joyful, …it isn’t doing anything, yet nothing is left undone….
    We should review what we teach to tomorrow’s generations , cause the sense of community is disappearing ….in the bible it says “love thy neighbor”it doesnot say love they neighbor if….I can’t look up Koran right now, or Torah, but it’s there too I am sure.

    Like the article says, we need to listen to other people, connect and try to see and feel their point of view….without judgement…furthermore, we can then divert their attention into something positive as a healhy distraction…almost like when we see a kid crying, and he tells us:
    “My big brother pushed me” and we say:
    I am sorry…maybe it was by mistake…
    Here is a candy for you….I am going t o talk to him, and we will work it out….

    High GPAS does not mean inner peace, and much less progress in our spiritual achieving…unfortunatly…or life would be too easy…

    the uneducated folk following blindly any sacred book, also does not guarantee a peaceful being.

    The answer is to promote compassion to serve others, with unconditional love, everywhere, anywhere with everyone. Everyone means everyone.
    Serving others does not make us less important….it give us more enervy to kerp going….

    Peace, blessings, and good karma to all .

  8. m.m.

    March 18, 2016 at 2:47 PM

    I have respect for the fact that this article is calm and rational about a highly emotional subject. You have to be humble to plead for mercy with cold-hearted people who ironically and arrogantly make judgements about others and declare their human worth on the basis of externals such as career and school performance. The polite explication in this article is an example of unconditional support towards ignorant Muslims. We are Muslims, and we can learn from our mistakes and love each other still, Alhamdulillah.

  9. Zahida

    March 19, 2016 at 4:59 AM

    It will be great to hear from you

  10. Zahida

    March 19, 2016 at 5:00 AM

    It get your news letter from a friend. I would like to get direct from you jazak Allah

  11. Tanzil Ahmed

    March 21, 2016 at 4:09 AM

    Assalamualaikum
    If somebody has committed suicide it doesn’t necessarily mean their akhirah is destroyed. The punishment for suicide mentioned is a threat from Allah not a promise. A threat may be actualized or it may not unlike a promise which Allah (Subhana wa Talla) necessarily fulfills.

    • Sabrina

      March 23, 2016 at 3:52 PM

      Dear Brother, Could you please provide some authentic source for what you have stated in your post – regarding the threat being meant only as a deterrent – if I understand that correctly. It would be a lot of help. Assalam alaikum

  12. Marco

    March 23, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    Wonderful article! Islam, I believe, is about leading a good life. Part of this involves kindness and empathy that is closely tied to “giving”, understanding one’s responsibilities to brothers/sisters and all sons of Adam. Being realistic about needs of others is most important in this, and goes beyond solely using condemnation. Admonishment is best when helpful. But it is about helping all alone the Path, and trying to “catch” those who “trip and fall” along the way.

  13. Ziba

    August 26, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Salaam,

    My little brother liked this girl in highschool and things didn’t work out, he has been depressed ever since. He is very quiet, doesn’t go out. He walks around the house and overthinks. He is now in the hospital in the mental health Unit. My family thinks he is possessed. I think it is a mental health issue which a lot don’t like to talk about. What are your thoughts when people turn directly to being possessed. Why is mental health not spoken about? Is it common?

  14. Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    Nice to see an article Hadiths about Suicide

  15. Suhayra

    December 19, 2017 at 2:20 PM

    Hi am a sister here and have been looking for websites where you can talk to someone for help but I find these websites where there’s an article and you comment but I want to talk to someone so if any of you know any place where I can talk to someone for help please message me…My email address Suhayra_Twenty@hotmail.com

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