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People don't commit suicide because they lost faith or a job

Mostafa Hussein, Blogging on the wrong side - Sun, 15/02/2009 - 6:48pm

Mental health policies and practice are full of problems. An old law, incomplete and disconnected services, insufficient practitioners, lack of awareness, poor training, distortion by religious ideologies and lack of research and statistics.

Discussing all this is difficult because of the amount of it. The new mental health law is a hot topic now with stomach-turning discussions on how some people think that humans living in this country deserve fewer rights.

Suicide is one aspect of mental health policy that is looked upon with a very strange perspective. Because of the religious prohibition on killing oneself, it became a given that all Islamic nations report an unrealistically low rate of suicide. Claims that Islam protects from suicide prompts silent laughs from anyone who can think.

I am not saying that Islam (or religiosity) doesn't protect from mental illness. This is not the issue here. The problem is that the source of this is interpretations of the holy text. Not any scientific method.

These claims feed the vicious stigmatizing circle of mental illness being a result of lack of faith. With people associating mental illness with an unavoidable internal guilt that they can't deal with.

Arabic media propagates the same myth. For more than a year now, I read everything on Google news written in Arabic and mentions the word Psychiatry. A disturbing number of articles written on how the mentally ill should resolve to faith to convalesce. Or the criminal statement that mental disorders are caused by lack of faith. These statements are from psychiatrists. To be fair, most of these statements are from Saudi and Jordanian press.

Religion aside, It seems that suicide rates are looked upon as failure rates. You can blame anything you don't like for increasing the number of suicide.

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