Life is precious. And life is a struggle, for everyone. We all have good and bad days, that is the recipe for life. Let not that beautiful smile, hearty laughter, big cars or trendy clothes deceive you, we are all struggling with something.
However, when life ends at the end of the rope, then we tend to ask the importance of life, and where do we turn to when we feel hopeless.
Five suicide deaths are reported every day in Central Kenya. Nyeri County is estimated to be losing at least 120 people per month to self-murder.
These worrying high rates have pushed county commissioners to ask church leaders to intervene. They have called for aggressive counseling of residents, men in particular. This move is aimed to tame losing lives through suicides.
But what is the stand of religion in suicide?
Jarrid Wilson, a pastor, author, and mental health advocate on 9th September took his life after officiating the funeral of another suicide victim.
Before his untimely demise, the 30-year-old twitted that loving Jesus doesn’t always cure Suicide thoughts.
As government leaders turn to the church leaders to salvage the community from suicide, what happens when a pastor, mental advocate commits suicide? What does religion teach when it comes to suicide?
According to a study dubbed ‘The Role of Faith Communities in Preventing Suicide’ to Muslims suicide is often associated with the sins of drinking and gambling, which further complicates the issue, for God has warned humanity to stay away from such vices. The Quran, An-Nisa (The Women) 4:29, Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!
Islam sees suicide as “a result of the person’s not being obedient to the rules of God and “falling off the straight path” by engaging in harmful behavior.”
The Quran says to trust God, have faith in the mercy of God, support the family, have patience, and do not destroy life. Despite the teaching that one should not destroy life, Muslims generally do not condemn the individual who dies by suicide. They believe that death is a personal matter between the victim and God.
Often it becomes evident that the victim had suffered emotionally or had a mental illness that the community was unaware of.
The Catholic Church
The Catholic Church teaches that everyone is responsible for his/her life before God. Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to hold onto life, it violates natural law, and that it is “gravely contrary to the just love of self.
In the past, suicide was considered a mortal sin. This was referenced to the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” It was taught that life belonged to God and only He could take it away.
However, in 1983, the Roman Catholic Church removed suicide from the list of mortal sins. Post-Vatican II thinking acknowledges that grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or a great fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the person who dies by suicide.
“We believe that suicide is not the way human life should end. Often suicide is the result of untreated depression, or untreated pain and suffering,” reads the research paper.
All faith groups have a strong reverence for life. Regardless of what might happen after a person dies, this life is precious and a gift to be treasured. Thus it is a sin to commit suicide.
But how does science approach suicide?
At the time of the suicide, it is estimated that mental illness is often present ranging from 27%-90%.
Suicide has been grouped as a mental illness with medical practitioners taking necessary steps to save a person from succumbing to self-murder.
In the rural parts of the country, where suicides are more rampant, few people will seek help from a medical center when it comes to mental illness. When the church fails to give a good solution, the rope does.
In a hospital set up, there are several professional helpers ranging from general practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers, counselors among others.
These mental professionals are trained to work with the individual and family to help develop skills and strategies to manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that impact on one’s mental illness. Their goal is to promote the independence of individual’s in areas of self-care, productivity, and leisure
After diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe medication to an individual. Therefore, prescribed medications play a key role in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. They can reduce symptoms and prevent relapses of a psychiatric disorder. Medications can also help patients minimize cravings and maintain abstinence from addictive substances.
In order to get the most out of medication, patients must make an informed choice about taking medications, and understand the potential benefits and costs associated with medication use.
Both the church and medical play a crucial role in the wellness of mental health and the prevention of suicide.