Suicide: Beyond The Taboo


Suicide…such a heavy topic of discussion, especially in the local Muslim community. As I was plotting this blog article, my mind was flooded with questions.

Written By: Sarah Soofi

How do I address this issue?
Is there any way I can make this an “easy” topic to discuss?
How can I reduce the intensity?

After several days of contemplation, I thought to myself, ‘Why am I even struggling to discuss this? I’m a mental health professional, of all people we should be the ones comfortable discussing this.’ Reality is, suicide is not a “pretty” topic, nor is it easy to bring up. However, in order to better address the issue and shed some light onto recovery from suicidal ideation, this topic should not be sugarcoated. Suicide does exist. It is REAL, and unfortunately has become more prevalent in our community.

While our deen can serve as a great protective factor when we are struggling, we should not allow the culture to stigmatize those who are in need of help. It is time that we emphasize that IT IS OKAY to get help. It is not 3ayb or haram.

Usamah ibn Shuraik narrated: “… ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Should we seek medical treatment for our illnesses?’ He replied: ‘Yes, you should seek medical treatment, because Allah, the Exalted, has let no disease exist without providing for its cure, except for one ailment, namely, old age’.” -Tirmidhi

We are mere humans. We experience issues in our relationships, academics, and careers similar to those others of different religious backgrounds. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and hopeless does not make any of us less Muslim. Rather, becoming more aware of these feelings and addressing them in a healthy manner, takes courage.

Learning to become comfortable in bringing up suicide, is the first step to help yourself or someone you know who is depressed and/or contemplating suicide. Another way to help is to become more aware of the warning signs. For instance, have you noticed sudden changes in you or the individual’s routine/daily life? A few questions to keep in mind are:

Does the individual seem more sad/down than usual?
Is the individual bringing up death/suicide or self-harm more often than before?
Do they talk about killing themselves, even jokingly?
Do they say they feel hopeless or “stuck”?
Have they withdrawn from their friends or their typical activities?
Are they giving away things they value greatly?

If you notice any of those symptoms, or someone has confided in you about suicide, you do not have to be a professional to help.

Ask the individual if they are suicidal, or if they have a plan.
Do not ask to be judgmental, ask to understand.
Validate the person’s feelings.
Offer to be a source of support for the individual (i.e. help find resources for the individual, ask a professional for advice and/or go with them when they go seek professional help).

Seeking professional help as soon as possible helps to reduce the chances of exacerbating the symptoms of depression, which potentially can lead to suicide. If you or the individual are finding it hard to go seek help in person, please call a crisis hotline or even chat with a crisis professional. These professionals are available 24/7.

1-800-273 TALK (8255)

Also, please refer to the resources tab of this site for a more extensive list of resources. There is help available, please utilize it.

About the Author

Sarah Soofi

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