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A ‘suicide seminar’ was held recently in the country to discuss the rocketing increase in suicides, and to focus on possible causes and preventative measures. In one country alone, an investigation into teenage suicide found that 3 million teens think suicide, and this survey found depression to be the main cause.

According to MSNBC, more than 13 percent of young Americans between 14 and 17 years of age considered suicide in 2000, the report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

More than a third of the 3 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 who said they thought about suicide in the past 12 months actually tried it. Girls were twice as likely as boys to say they thought about suicide, but race did not seem to make a difference, the report found, nor did whether they lived in the city, suburbs or country.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS OF DEPRESSION

If you are always nervous, stressed and gloomy, or wish to withdraw into a secluded place away from all, or you have grown tired of life, you are probably suffering from depression. One could expect such a person to be suffering from this ‘illness’ who is incapable of fulfilling his needs or a time has come in his life that he feels totally helpless, defeated and lonely, either as a result of an unfortunate death, a missed opportunity, a financial loss, persistent feeling of negativity, or some other unexpected disappointing experience. This can invariably contribute towards feelings of jealousy, fear, cowardice, pessimism and insecurity. A heightened form of this ‘illness’ could make the sufferer attempt or even commit suicide. This condition has become rampant at every level of society and its disastrous effects result in many forms of misery, not only for the victim, but even for his/her family and friends.

In layman’s terms, depression can be of two forms: one finds its roots in the chemical disorientation of the sufferer whereas the other can be attributed to social circumstances. A psychiatrist’s help, through medication and therapy, is required in the former instance, whilst in the latter case, the problem can be overcome more easily through spiritual or psychological means. Whatever the causes maybe, help should be sought quickly before the matter reaches a point of no return and results in a tragic end, such as suicide, for depression has lead many to suicide.

ISLAMIC SOLUTIONS

Spiritual meditation and positive reflection is a very effective means to fight depression. Islam offers this effective meditation at least 5 times a day through the Salaah. In between the Salaahs, there is an opportunity to meditate 24 hours a day through recitation of the Quran and Zikrullah (remembrance of Allah). Many have found the answer to their depression, in repeatedly reciting and meditating and reflecting on certain verses of the Holy Quran. Recently a professional person, who had suffered a big financial loss, and who was suffering acute depression, began to read the Quran translation and came across the verse: “No burden do we place on any soul, but that which it can bear.” (6:152). This verse acted as a soothing agent on his depressed nerves. Where all anti-depression drugs failed, a single verse of the Quran brought about a quality shift in the psychological state of this person. “I realised difficulties are perhaps as vital for the continuation of life as is oxygen for breathing. It cannot be that life goes on at a relative level of poverty or affluence till the end. The crests and troughs of this wave of life have an implicit existence. Every rise is sooner or later followed by a fall,” was what his reflections brought out for him.

A woman who had lost her husband in an accident suffered frequent depression attacks, which affected not only her own life, but the education of her three daughters as well. Then she came across the verse, which changed her outlook on life: “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the harvest that you sow; but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return’. They are those upon whom

[descend] blessings from Allah, and mercy, and they are the ones who receive guidance”. (2:155-7).

Despite the ‘dark clouds’ of depression that come over life now and again, a true Muslim with strong faith in the Almighty, observes the ‘silver lining’, and takes all in his stride. The idea is that for a Muslim, every incident strengthens his Imaan. So, a true Muslim should never suffer from depression. The answer lies in the fundamental understanding, which should govern a Muslim’s existence: “Life with all its ups and downs, is a test and a trial”.

Editorial – Al Jamiat – Vol 6 No 3

Jamiatul Ulama KZN