Why does humanity remain unhappy despite recent scientific and technological advances and the spread of modern services? Technology makes life easier, but human happiness and peace of mind have suffered tremendously. Unfortunately, technology causes such spiritual problems as suicide, which has become somewhat fashionable in recent decades. Although psychopathology (or psychiatry) tries to cure this illness, the efforts are disproportionate. And since its approaches are usually materialistic in nature, a radical solution has not been found.
We introduce a new dimension to psycho-pathology's one-dimensional and nonreligious approach to spiritual disorders. Along with chemotherapy, religious strength or spirituality, a lack of which is the real cause of depression, will serve as a radical solution. In short, we propose the cooperation of psychiatry and religion.
The Two Fundamental Causes of Suicide
Preparatory Causes: The most important preparatory cause is religious debility, for religion (especially Islam) protects one from depression and thus from suicide.(1) One who cannot comprehend creation's purpose and does not fear or love God is prone to depression and so experiences trouble and discomfort. But one whose heart is content with remembering God and who always feels His presence, as He is closer than his or her carotid artery, cannot become depressed.(2) True believers cannot follow a path that might imply rebellion against God; rather, they thank God and rely on Him during abundance and poverty.(3)
Humanity was created for a reason. This worldly life is ephemeral and a test to differentiate the good from the evil. Believers endure and continue to struggle. Besides, humanity is created with these feelings.(4) Those who read and understand the Qur'an properly will overcome their depression.(5)
The carnal self (nafs) urges evil, unless God has mercy on that person.(6) Thus a self that is not controlled by religious training stimulates evil (including suicide) and rebellion against God. Suicide is the result of the self working with Satan to urge the subconscious toward evil. Those who fear God and train their self can avoid this trap.(7) Perhaps Freud meant carnal (nafs-related) desires and feelings when he stated that the subconscious is full of evil desires (pansexuality). Perhaps what he called the œid was actually a perception of the carnal self. Perhaps his distance from any religion, especially Islam, caused him to characterize it incorrectly.(8)
Stimulating Causes: Weak faith, the primary cause, leads to depression and desperation. Islam prevents this and thus deters suicide.(9) Poverty and forlornness are the most important stimulating (secondary) causes. Even the Prophet sought refuge in God from poverty.(10) Materialists who cannot reach their financial or materialistic goals are likely to become depressed and commit suicide.
Although suicide has many causes, I consider economic causes paramount. Moreover fractiousness, the primary cause of divorce, is economic helplessness. But although suicide is inconsistent with human dignity and thus rebellion against God, its rates continue to increase.
People commit suicide for varoius reasons. Table 1 and Figure 1 show that suicide rates are highest in communist or former communist societies. This is due to the lack of spiritual and religious training and a long-standing policy of inculcating atheism and antireligious sentiment.
For underdeveloped and developing countries, the reason is not primarily poverty. But for prosperous countries, which offer many opportunities to their people, the reason is the perceived spiritual and moral hollowness in the eyes of those searching for spiritual satisfaction. Thus they are more inclined to commit suicide. The highly prosperous countries of North America, Australia, Norway, and Sweden have the highest suicide rates; Muslim countries have the lowest rates, thanks to Islam. In Muslim countries, the primary reason is economic in nature.
Conclusion and Solution Suggestions
More psychiatric clinics or antidepressant drugs are not solutions. Drug therapy might provide a temporary symptomatic relief, but not a radical cure. Given this, religious and moral education should come first when developing a cure. This can be realized with religious education in the triad of family, house of worship, and school.
Believers will not know fear or sadness or be unfortunate.(11) Seekers of salvation elsewehere than in God's mercy, however, eventually become depressed due to fear or melancholy, the primary causes of suicide and depression in general.
Depressed people should be urged to transcend aimless rehabilitation activities and engage in those with a spiritual or religious meaning. Prayer is the most important activity, for it protects people from evil.(12) As depression and suicide are spiritual sicknesses, prayer could cure them. People experiencing spiritual and psychological distress often display a lack of willpower and concentration. Prayer is the perfect medicine for such ailments.
In addition, the deep and humble reverence forming the goal of each prayer represents the summit of meditation and reflection. Qur'an 23:1 says that such prayers saves people. Those who pray also gain spiritually and economically: Thousands of stressed-out people flow into meditation centers, but prayer will discharge them with no cost and will gain God's consent.
In conclusion, religion is as a shield that prevents evil, including suicide. Given this, psychiatry and religion must cooperate. In either diagnosis or therapy, success lies in such a cooperation.
1 Islam literally means peace, bliss, security, and soundness, and is the religion with which God is content. See Qur'an 3:19, 20, 83, 85, 102; 4:115; 5:3.
2 Qur'an 2:165, 5:100, 13:28, 39:22, 43:36, 50:16, 57:4, 103:1-4; Ramooz al-Ahadith, 2:369 and 1:46.
3 Qur'an 4:29-31; Tacreed Translation, 12:1940, 1989; 9:1413.
4 Qur'an 3:14; 4:77; 6:32; 9:38; 10:4; 16:41; 18:46; 21:36; 23:115; 29:2-4, 45; 42:36; 45:21; 67:2; 68:5-6; 75:36; 76:2; 90:4; 91:7-10.
5 Qur'an 2:155, 177; 3:134; 13:24; 16:126; 28:54, 42:43; 51:56; 68:35.
6 Qur'an 12:53
7 Qur'an 2:168, 4:29-30, 6:151, 12:53, 39:53, 43:36, 79:40, 91:7-10; Ramooz al-Ahadith 2:369.
8 The Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines œid as œone of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives
9 Qur'an 12:87, 39:53; Ramooz al-Ahadith, 1:46.
10 Fath al-Kabir, 1:1285-89.
11 Qur'an 2:38, 274; 6:48; 7:35; 20:123; 46:13.
12 Qur'an 29:45.
The Solution to Suicide
- By Dr. Bedri Katipoglu
- Category: Issue 33 (January - March 2001)
- © Blue Dome Press. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.