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Connect, Care, Communicate

A 25-year-old girl committed suicide last week by throwing herself from the sixth floor of a famous mall. She died a few days later in the hospital after succumbing to her injuries. According to several of her relatives, she had been suffering from depression due to family disputes. This news is not only shocking and catastrophic but also upsetting. In covering the incident, newspapers and media outlets didn’t focus on the struggles that led the woman to take her own life but questioned, instead, whether this poor girl can be “prayed for.” Is this really what concerns us? Instead of trying to empathize with the miserable life of this poor girl, what we’re focused on instead is whether she deserves religious condemnation for ending her life. Whenever the topic of suicide is brought up in the news, commentators immediately remark that the victim “died an infidel” or was “vexed by the devil.” In other words, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that depression is an acute disease that often cannot be controlled. It isn’t simply “cured” by prayer, fasting, or pilgrimage. It is associated with a chemical imbalance in one’s brain, and, similarly to many other diseases, has a clear medical diagnosis. Undermining the victim’s suffering or questioning his or her religiousness is cruel. People who suffer from depression struggle with a real disease that suffocates their soul, destroys their livelihood, and consumes their sanity. The number of suicides in the world is more than the victims of wars and premeditated killings combined, standing at some 3,000 suicides per day. Suicide is the number one cause of death for adolescents and adults under the age of 35. Around the world, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds. Men commit suicide three times more than women. These terrifying numbers explain the size and severity of the mental health problem. Therefore, the World Health Organization and the World Anti-Suicide Association launched the slogan “connect, care, communicate” to encourage people to support their friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Let’s live up to that slogan. Let’s make a better effort to understand, and support, those who are battling with their mental health. –Khaled Montaser (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)