Suicide, or self-killing, is a global phenomenon and has been known in every culture and society. The taking of one’s own life is the most private of acts. Suicide is the extreme step that a human been decides to put an end to his life. It is not only the result of a mere negative thinking or shallow consideration, but one is compelled to take this ‘extreme step’ only when he finds all the roads blocked and no way out.
The recent years have witnessed an alarming rise in the ratio of suicides across the world. Unlike the previous records, young people are now at the highest risk in both developed and developing countries. Globally, nearly 60% of suicide deaths are among young adults in their productive years of life. This is a distinct change, while earlier more suicides were recorded among the elderly.
Suicide is a heinous act that causes devastating effects, not only for the family members of the person but also for others associated to him in any way.
According to WHO, in the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide: a "global" mortality rate of 16 per 100,000. There is an average of one death every 40 seconds and an attempt every three seconds. Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998. In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death across the world, especially in the 15-35 year age group.
The global rate of occurrence of suicide rose from 10 per 100 000 population in the 1950s to 18 per 100 000 during 1995. While it has declined in some countries, there has been a significant increase in some developing countries. Collectively, an upward trend is noticeable across the world.
Deaths recorded due to suicide across the world indicate only the tip of the iceberg. The actual number is significantly higher, because many suicides are recorded as accidents. These figures do not include suicide attempts that are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide. World Health Organisation records show that for every successful suicide there are about 20 cases of attempt to suicide.
Increasing Suicide Trends in India
India and Sri Lanka record the highest number of suicide rates among the South East Asia Region Member Countries and occupy the 45th positions globally. With a rate of 11 per 100000 suicides per year, an increase from 6 per 100 000 during the 1980s, India occupies the second highest rate of suicides in the Region. When corrected for underreporting, these rates are likely to be much higher. While 89000 persons committed suicide in 1995, the number increased to 96 000 in 1997 and to 104 000 in 1998, an increase of 25% compared to the previous year. This statistic becomes even more alarming when you consider that the total number of suicide cases recorded in the whole of India in 2002 was 154,000.
Kerala (29 per 100 000), Karnataka (21 per 100 000) and Tripura as well as West Bengal (19 per 100 000) had the highest rates of suicide. Among the cities, Bangalore (17%), Mumbai (14%), Chennai (11%) and Delhi (7.5%) accounted for nearly 50% of the total suicides in the country. In the Union Territory of Pondicherry, every month at least 15 youths between the ages of 15 and 25 commit suicide. In 2002, there were 10,982 suicides in Tamil Nadu, 11,300 in Kerala, 10,934 in Karnataka, and 9,433 in Andhra Pradesh. In 2003, the largest number of farmers (nearly 175) committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh. Kerala, the country's only fully literate state, has the highest number of suicides. Some 32 people commit suicide in Kerala every day. As a whole, some 50,000 people in the four states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Pondicherry kill themselves every year.
India has officially admitted to the death of about 3,600 farmers over the last five years, most of whom were unable to repay their loans and huge interest payments. Higher rates of suicides have been noticed in the age group of 15-34 years. Out of every three cases of suicide reported every 15 minutes in India, one is committed by a youth in the age group of 15 to 29.
Why people are driven towards killing themselves?
The psychological dislocation that causes one to kill oneself has deep social roots. Suicide results from many complex socio-cultural factors. Many tend to commit suicide when they do not see their dreams materialized. The faster pace of life and the wide gap between people's aspirations and actual capabilities have led many to end their lives. Therefore, the industrialized countries have a higher suicide rate than poor, developing countries.
Financial instability, unemployment, burdensome debts are also some factors that drive one to an end to his life. Family conflicts, domestic violence, academic failures and unfulfilled ambitions share a great deal of suicide related causes. Addiction to alcohol and drug usage is also significant factor in youth suicide.
Islam has the best solution of suicide
It is a fact that Muslim countries show the lowest rates of suicide. Generally, the Muslims worldwide have lower rates compared to non-Muslims. Similarly, the Muslims who live in the West continue to have very low suicide rates compared to other communities. It is not a sheer coincidence but in fact it is the result of Islamic teachings that envelop a Muslim society and individual.
First of all, it is a part of Muslim faith that they believe in destiny; good or bad whatever is from Almighty Allah. Secondly, every Muslim believes that one day he has to die and after death he has to receive rewards of his actions; wrong or right, good or bad. On the Final Day of Judgement, Allah Almighty will make every human being alive and will ask him to present the accounts of his entire life. The concept of Final Day of Judgement is a key factor in Muslims’ life that controls their actions. Before taking a step, a Muslim first deliberates, consciously or unconsciously, that he has to reap the severe consequences of his action not only in this brief period of worldly life but also in the world hereafter. Thus, secretly, he develops a habit of fearing Almighty Allah in each and every matter that continuously keeps him guided to the straight path.
One is not sent to this world forever. According to Islamic beliefs, this World is a short stoppage of a very long journey; it is a journey far beyond death. The end of this journey is either the destination of Paradise or Hell. The life of the world hereafter is eternal and unlimited. If one has a record of good deeds he will enjoy forever and if one is cursed to have a bad record, he has to suffer either forever or for a very long period as per the seriousness of his deeds.
This worldly life has been bestowed to us to prepare for the eternal life of the world hereafter. Therefore, limiting ones desires and ambitions to one’s capabilities is utterly encouraged but required in Islam. Life is a test from Allah, He tests people in various ways and times. He tests some by blessing him with countless bounties to see if he appreciates and shows gratitude towards Allah or forgets Him. At times Allah in his infinite wisdom puts a person in intense grief, to see if the servant turns to Him and seeks guidance and help. Each and every one of us is tested by Allah in someway or another. Some turn to Allah and seek help, while some turn completely to the opposite side. Those upon whom many grieve and mourn are the people who have turned to suicide. In the time of grief and sufferings one should keep this thing in mind and keep patience and show forbearance. Patience and forbearance is highly appreciated in Islam.
Out of all the bounties, life is the most precious gift bestowed by Allah upon human beings. It is not our personal possession or property, but it is a trust from Allah to us; we can only utilize it in the ways that are have been ordained and described by Allah. We have no right to end it or damage it by our own hands.
Suicide is a major sin in Islam. The Quran has clearly prohibited from committing suicide and the Prophet of Islam assigns suicide to the lower levels of Hell. The Quran says: "And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you". (4:29) "And do not throw yourselves in destruction". (2:195)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “…And whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron, he will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell-fire." (Bukhari, Hadith No. 1297)
"He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell-fire (forever), and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself, he shall keep stabbing himself in the Hell-fire (forever)." (Bukhari, Hadith No. 1299)
"A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him." (Bukhari, Hadith No. 1298)
Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi can be accessed at: firstname.lastname@example.org