NPR recently released an article asserting that American Muslims are 2 gtimes more likely to have attempted suicide than any other group. This study was completed by JAMA Psychiatry, and shows that nearly 8% of Muslims who participated in the survey reported a suicide attempt in their lifetime.
Researchers have said that this high number is due to religious discrimination and community stigma. These factors prevent American Muslinms from seeking mental health services.
A rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia in the United States, as well as the overall West, has led to the alienation of Muslims. Comprising less than 2% of the population in the United States, yet heavily concentrated in city centers with potential visible members, Muslims are particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Furthermore, Muslims comprise of diverse backgrounds. There is a large population of Black Muslims, of Arab Muslims, and others. Treating the trauma of each community is different. Some Muslims are descendants of slaves, some are refugees, others are wealthy. Each community’s struggle can be different, and should be treated accordingly; however, due to the homogenization of the Muslim identity, it can be harder to tackle these issues, and treat individuals.
Religious discrimination extends to institutions where American Muslims might try to seek help. The healthcare field is a hotspot for Countering Violence and Extremism (CVE) funding. CVE is known to target Muslims discriminately. Many therapists and mental health organizations are known to be recipients of CVE. As a result, many young Muslims may be put off of seeking help from therapists for fear of religious discrimination. CVE has had a horrifying record in charging innocents with crimes, and even indoctrinating certain individuals to commit crimes. You can find a list of different incidents on how CVE affects Muslim youth here.
Have you been told to read more Quran after disclosing that you’re depressed? Or that your faith is vulnerable and this is why you have a mental illness? You’re not alone.
There is communal stigma surrounding mental health. Oftentimes, religious practice is evoked as being the “medicine” behind mental illnesses. According to a 2013 study, mental health stigma is the reason that many Muslims don’t seek professional help. As we read more and more studies that come out regarding mental health and suicide, we must also make sure to nurture those in our communities, and provide them with proper help. There are a variety of different resources that you can use to get help, yet until we acknowledge the factors that go into deteriorating mental health amongst Muslims, these efforts may be fruitless. Pressure your local representatives to defund CVE, and create resources for your community to seek help responsibly.
The Khalil Center is a great resource that offers faith-based mental health services, grounded in Islamic sciences.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.