Suicide Prevention for Muslim Communities


By Rania Awaad, MD, Taimur Kouser, BA, Osama El-Gabalawy, MD, & Belal Zia, MA

Trigger Warning: This article discusses suicide, which some may discover disturbing. If you or somebody you recognize is having severe ideas of suicide, please name 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

“Whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity” [Qur’an 5:32]

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Suicide is clearly forbidden in Islam, however that doesn’t imply that Muslims don’t have suicidal ideas or don’t die by suicide. Suicide is a posh phenomenon. Several elements relate to an individual’s threat for suicide, together with organic elements like genetic traits that improve an individual’s susceptibility to psychological well being issues, psychological elements like emotions of worthlessness and hopelessness, social elements like the sort and high quality of relationships that an individual has with others, and religious elements like an individual’s moral or ethical beliefs. Muslims, similar to all different individuals, are influenced by these numerous organic, psychological, social, and religious elements. For Muslims residing in some Western international locations, there could also be extra and distinctive elements that additionally result in the event of suicide threat equivalent to Islamophobia, discrimination, and marginalization. In truth, our latest examine in JAMA Psychiatry confirmed that U.S. Muslims have been twice as more likely to report trying suicide someday of their lives as in comparison with different religion and non-faith teams. However, suicide is 100% preventable. That is exactly why we consider this text on suicide prevention in Muslim communities is of utmost significance.

Among Muslims, similar to members of different communities, there are individuals who have died by suicide and plenty of others who wrestle with ideas of suicide. As a outcome, it’s essential for Muslim communities to spring to motion and implement measures to forestall suicides earlier than they occur. Suicide prevention refers back to the actions that people and communities can take to assist forestall suicide. Suicide prevention is a long-term course of, and it depends on communities prioritizing the dialogue of psychological well being and in search of therapy when an individual is in want. Although many suicide prevention methods name for extra psychological well being training, consciousness occasions, and even the formation of group disaster response groups, there are impactful steps that every particular person can take to fight psychological well being stigma and assist forestall suicide in their very own communities too.

The Qur’an and Hadith emphasize the sacredness that Allah has bestowed upon every human life, in addition to the mandate of stopping its loss. Indeed, the Qur’an says “And do not kill the soul which Allah has made sacred” [Qur’an, 17:33] and that “whoever kills a person, it is as though they killed the whole of humankind; and whoever saves (a life), it is as though they saved the whole of humankind” [Qur’an, 5:32]. These verses underscore Islam’s forbiddance of suicide and spotlight the sacredness of the human soul.  These verses additionally function a call-to-action to forestall suicide based mostly on the identical worth that Allah has positioned on every human soul.

The Qur’an and Hadith additionally emphasize the fact and nature of trials on this world. For occasion, the Qur’an says “We will test you with some fear, and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops—but give good news to those who patiently endure. Upon these are blessings and mercy from their Lord. These are the guided ones.” [Qur’an  2:155-157]. Hardship and issue are realities of this life that we’re inspired to face utilizing the instruments prescribed to us by Allah, together with affected person perseverance (sabr), gratitude (shukr), and the help of our communities. The teachings in Islam convey an obligation for suicide prevention that all of us bear. In truth, fulfilling this accountability to the most effective of our talents is just not solely a accountability that people can fulfill, however one which they need to fulfill. In brief, suicide prevention is a fard kifaya– a communal obligation on us all.

Here is a listing of 6 Do’s and Do Nots for all Muslims to comply with when constructing a suicide prevention program of their group:

  1. DO maintain common group social occasions and test in on others

One notable Hadith reads, “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself,” and one other reads “No two people love each other for the sake of Allah, behind their backs, but that the most beloved of them to Allah has the strongest love for their companion” [Bukhari & Muslim; al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 5424]. These Hadith underscore the significance of robust, interconnected, and empathic communities- the forms of communities which are additionally important for combating suicide. Community gatherings, particularly these which are welcoming to all individuals, are nice locations for individuals to socialize, meet others, and work on addressing threat elements for suicide together with loneliness and social isolation. Community gatherings assist to advertise belonging, which may go a great distance when it comes to decreasing suicide threat. When at group packages, dinner events, on the masjid, or at different public gatherings, attempt to make an effort to incorporate others in your conversations or actions, particularly these on the margins of the group. Invite individuals into your social group, hearken to them, converse kindly, and in case you are involved about them, ensure to test in to see how they’re actually feeling.

  1. DO confront psychological well being stigma

Another notable Hadith reads, “Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve them of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in this world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in this world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (their faults) for them in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah is engaged in helping the worshipper as long as the worshipper is engaged in helping their brother” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1930, Book 27, Hadith 36]. Mental well being stigma refers back to the technique of devaluing individuals with psychological well being issues, and it has actual penalties for a way psychological well being challenges are addressed in a group. Talking about psychological well being issues continues to be taboo in lots of Muslim communities. This implies that individuals should endure the burden of a psychological well being problem, and in addition endure the additional burden of doing so alone. People with psychological well being issues are sometimes devalued and are thought-about weak, uninteresting, and even sinful by others in the neighborhood. People who face psychological well being stigma can have difficulties discovering a job, a partner, satisfactory housing, and belonging in a group. When individuals are unwilling to even discuss psychological well being, the stigma grows, making individuals who need assistance really feel afraid to achieve out due to fears that they are going to be labelled as loopy, weak, or dangerous Muslims.

When we acknowledge that psychological well being issues exist and are widespread, we might help to problem the stigma. Moreover, we are able to fulfill the encouragement of Allah to ease the burden of others. When individuals are keen to speak about psychological well being, then others will usually really feel extra empowered to achieve out for assist and even admit that they want it within the first place. Combating psychological well being stigma is vital for suicide prevention as a result of it creates a path for individuals to seek out help after they want it. Mental sicknesses are treatable, and normalizing conversations round psychological sickness permits those that are struggling to share, achieve help, and search assist. Confronting stigma will be as straightforward as asking others how they’re doing, creating an area the place individuals are invited to share their struggles, or clearly figuring out sources of help in your individual group. This final level is particularly vital—by proactively figuring out the place to hunt psychological well being therapy, it will likely be simpler to achieve out if you want it. Find psychological well being professionals round you who you’ll be able to attain out to, or the place you’ll be able to refer your family and friends, in instances of want.

  1. DO know the indicators of suicide and search Gatekeeper coaching

When an individual is pondering of killing themselves, they might present a number of warning indicators like withdrawing from their common social circles or speaking about not desirous to be a burden to others. Understanding the warning indicators for suicide might help people acknowledge when somebody of their group is contemplating killing themselves and might help be sure that the person receives the help that they want. Proactively studying the warning indicators of suicide is a means for the group to construct its capability to assist people who find themselves pondering of harming themselves ultimately.

If potential, and particularly in case you are in a management or authority place (e.g., Imam, group chief, youth director, trainer, professor, guardian, and so on.), join a Gatekeeper coaching program. Gatekeeper coaching packages are specifically designed to assist individuals be taught the warning indicators for suicide and intervene, when vital, till skilled assist can arrive. The Suicide Prevention Resource Centre (SPRC) has compiled a listing of accessible Gatekeeper coaching packages for various group teams. Additionally, has partnered with the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab to create a custom-tailored Muslim Community Suicide Response coaching. Communities through which individuals are educated to acknowledge suicide threat and reply appropriately are finest outfitted to forestall a suicide from taking place.

  1. DO NOT look to 1 stakeholder to deal with psychological well being issues

As talked about beforehand, suicide prevention is a fard kifaya—a communal obligation— and we every have a job to play. Suicide prevention requires long-term group dedication to psychological well being promotion. Because communities are made up of various stakeholders (equivalent to Muslim non secular leaders, youth administrators, psychological well being professionals, social staff, households, people, and extra), suicide prevention can’t be one thing that just one stakeholder addresses. For instance, psychological well being professionals have scientific coaching in easy methods to deal with psychological well being issues, however their coaching is most useful after an individual is available in for therapy. Others, equivalent to native Imams, could not have skilled psychological well being coaching, however can leverage their information of the Deen and basic counseling expertise to advertise wellness and direct individuals to skilled treatment-seeking. Similarly, group members occupy highly effective roles in selling psychological well being therapy. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and different relations and buddies are often the primary factors of contact when an individual is battling psychological well being challenges. Lending a listening ear when it’s wanted and directing a beloved one to acceptable help & assets—together with psychological well being professionals—is a strong approach to scale back psychological well being challenges all through the group. Mental well being challenges are widespread, and so they can occur to anybody. We all have an element to play in establishing psychological well being and wellness as a precedence in our communities.

  1. DO NOT attempt to do all the things your self

Allah says, “So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know” [Qur’an, 16:43].

Although everybody in the neighborhood performs a job in suicide prevention by adopting behaviors that promote higher psychological well being and by creating several types of help programs for one another, it is very important acknowledge your limits. Mental well being professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists are outfitted to deal with people who find themselves having ideas of killing themselves, whether or not that’s throughout a disaster or not. Community members and leaders can, and will, play an energetic position in selling psychological well being consciousness, however inside the limits of their capabilities. This doesn’t imply that it is best to abandon an individual who’s in danger for suicide. Rather, people who should not educated in suicide intervention ought to guarantee that an individual with the suitable psychological well being coaching can present care for somebody in danger for suicide, as quickly as potential. This consists of calling emergency responders instantly in case you are conscious of somebody planning suicide or trying to take their very own life. It is vital to err on the facet of warning — search assist in case you are uncertain what the next move needs to be.

  1. DO NOT put anybody on the spot or invade their privateness

Some of us could know individuals in our communities who’ve handled important psychological well being challenges. While it is very important understand that individuals who have handled psychological well being challenges have distinctive views to supply the group about psychological sickness and even ideas of self-harm, it’s crucial that these people should not singled out for suicide prevention packages. First, it’s unfair to solely put the burden of psychological well being consciousness on those that have struggled with their very own psychological well being—prevention must be a group effort supported by all. Second, it’s unacceptable to infringe on an individual’s privateness—nobody needs to be coerced into sharing their private tales in public settings. Third, and maybe most significantly, detailed discussions about private motives and emotions towards self-harm and suicide should not acceptable for a group area. These forms of dialogue, although well-intentioned, can have the unintended consequence of transmitting self-harming behaviors, suicide ideation, and suicide makes an attempt to different members of the group. Remember the purpose is rarely to normalize self-harm or suicide, however to normalize the acts of sharing, reaching out for assist, and supporting those that are struggling with out judgement.


Suicide is preventable and psychological well being issues are treatable. Communities and particular person group members have an vital accountability to make an energetic dedication to suicide prevention in their very own communities. Successful long-term suicide prevention has a lot to do with particular person capability constructing and actively combating psychological well being stigma. When selling psychological well being turns into an vital and foundational a part of a group’s atmosphere, individuals are extra more likely to really feel supported and shall be extra more likely to have entry to skilled assist after they want it. A sort phrase to a stranger or checking in on a buddy who’s struggling can have profound impression. Above all, do not forget that the Qur’an tells us, “Whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity” [5:32]. Working collectively to forestall suicide, we are able to all fulfill our joint Islamic accountability of saving lives.

If you have an interest in furthering your information on suicide response within the Muslim group, the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab has developed a sturdy, evidence-based and Islamically-grounded suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention handbook and coaching. It gives in-depth, step-by-step steerage for Muslim group and spiritual leaders that was developed in collaboration with Muslim leaders and suicide consultants. The Stanford MMHIP Lab in collaboration with has developed a coaching and certification program for Muslims the world over to learn to successfully forestall, intervene, and reply to suicides in their very own communities. To be taught extra please comply with us on social media @stanfordmmhip and @maristan_org and make sure to be a part of the mailing checklist to obtain downloadable assets equivalent to khutbahs, talking guides and coaching alternatives.

If you or somebody you recognize is having ideas of self-harm, please name 911 or one of many following hotlines:



Rania Awaad M.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry on the Stanford University School of Medicine the place she is the Director of the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab, Associate Chief of the Division of Public Mental Health and Population Sciences, and Co-Chief of the Diversity and Cultural Mental Health Section in division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her analysis and scientific work are targeted on the psychological well being of Muslims. Her programs at Stanford vary from educating a pioneering course on Islamic Psychology, instructing medical college students and residents on implicit bias and integrating tradition and faith into medical care to educating undergraduate and graduate college students the psychology of xenophobia. Some of her most up-to-date tutorial publications embody an edited quantity on “Islamophobia and Psychiatry” (Springer, 2019), “Applying Islamic Principals to Clinical Mental Health” (Routledge, 2020) and an upcoming scientific textbook on Muslim Mental Health for the American Psychiatric Association. She is presently an teacher on the Cambridge Muslim College, TISA and a Senior Fellow at Yaqeen Institute and ISPU. In addition, she serves because the Director of The Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit group devoted to educating Muslim ladies and women. She has beforehand served because the founding Clinical Director of the Khalil Center-San Francisco in addition to a Professor of Islamic Law at Zaytuna College. Prior to finding out medication, she pursued classical Islamic research in Damascus, Syria and holds certifications (ijāzah) in Qur’an, Islamic Law and different branches of the Islamic Sciences. Follow her @Dr.RaniaAwaad

Taimur Kouser, BA, is a researcher on the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab and is among the authors of the lab’s suicide group response handbook. He acquired his Bachelor’s diploma in Neuroscience and Philosophy from Harvard University. Currently, he’s a Master’s candidate at Duke University of their Bioethics & Science Policy program and is conducting analysis on the Center for Neurophilosophy at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, on a Fulbright analysis grant.

Osama El-Gabalawy, MD, is a former co-leader of the suicide line of analysis on the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab and is among the authors of the lab’s suicide group response handbook. He acquired his Bachelor’s diploma in Biology, Master’s diploma in Computer Science, and Doctorate in Medicine all from Stanford University. He is presently a Psychiatry resident at Columbia University.

Belal Zia, MA, is a former co-leader of the suicide line of analysis on the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab and is among the authors of the lab’s suicide group response handbook. He is a Canada-Vanier Scholar pursuing his PhD in Clinical Psychology on the University of Manitoba, the place his analysis consists of addressing limitations to psychological well being therapy for non secular and ethnic minority sufferers. He holds a MA in Clinical Psychology from the University of Manitoba and a BSc (Hon. Spec.) in Psychology from Western University.


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