The increasing rate of suicide among different groups of society at different ages is threatening community safety and has worried many health professionals. In other words, the issue has become a Social Problem.
Religion has always been one of the undeniable realities of human life. Even in secular societies, though it seems that religion is not a determinative factor in political and administrative relations, when it comes to personal beliefs, religion has always been an effective agent. Undoubtedly, this fact – religion – can influence much of the behavior of religious believers and, hence, influence the behavior of community members. So, religious teachings and statements can have paramount effects in prevention of suicide and other abnormal behaviors that may lead to suicide attempts.
Suicide is among the 3 leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and additionally the second leading reason behind death among the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not embrace suicide attempts that are up to twenty times a lot of frequent than completed suicide (WHO report, 2012).
Therefore, suicide is also studied and scrutinized as a social problem.
Religion may play a significant role in the identity of an individual. A key component of an individual’s culture, religion can act both as a protector against emotional distress and as a precipitant. The relationship between religion and spirituality on the one hand, and between religion and mental health on the other, is multi-faceted and complex. If they practice, individuals’ explanatory models of their psychological and emotional distress will be strongly influenced by their religious values. Religious beliefs and rituals can act as buffers against stress and provide an element of comfort to distressed individuals. It is inevitable that religious beliefs and values held by any individual for whom these are important will affect how help is sought and where help is sought from.
Attitudes to religion and suicide have changed as societies and cultures have evolved. A shift from socio-centric or collectivist societies to ego-centric or individualistic societies has been accompanied by an increase in common mental disorders.
Social Theories of Suicide
Durkheim, considered the founder of empirical research in sociology and suicidology, hypothesized in his 1897 book Suicide that suicide rates vary negatively with the level of social integration of individual groups. Since then many biosocial models of self-harmful behavior have incorporated family processes and social support networks , and support the promotion of social cohesion and identification with societal values in the enhancement of mental health in general and the prevention of suicide in particular. In adolescents, in whom identity is a vital element of well-being, this could be accomplished through participation in youth movements, social clubs, sports activities, and national service. Other theories, such as the relational approach of Joiner, have implications for the potential benefits of socio-cultural interventions, but these are beyond the scope of this review.
Religion and suicide
Rates of suicide and suicidal behaviors vary across countries and have also changed over centuries. These variations are related to several factors in reporting; for example, in countries where the act of suicide is punishable by law, the reported rates are likely to be lower. Social factors, such an anomie and unemployment, are likely to be related to rates of suicide.
Personal and individual factors, such as gender, age, social status, religion, and other socio-demographic factors, may also play a role. The relationship between age and gender in understanding the process of suicide and suicidal behavior is well-recognized across cultures. As religion and religious values play a key role in attitudes to depression and suicide, but not all cases of suicide suffered from depression, an interesting interaction between suicide, depression, and religion, along with capacity and consent, starts to emerge.
Views of different religions on suicide
There are various religious views on the suicide. As attested in the Golden Bough, suicide is commonplace and frequent thorough history, till the point that humans prefer violent death to waning of the body.
In Theravada Buddhism, for a monk to so much as praise death, including dwelling upon life’s miseries or extolling stories of possibly blissful rebirth in a higher realm in a way that might condition the hearer to commit suicide or to pine away to death, is explicitly stated as a breach in one of highest Vinaya codes, the prohibition against harming life, one that will result in automatic expulsion from Sangha.
For Buddhists, since the first precept is to refrain from the destruction of life, including one’s self, suicide is seen as a negative act. If someone commits suicide in anger, he may be reborn in a sorrowful realm due to negative final thoughts.
There is no specific biblical warrant condemnatory or specifically prohibiting suicide, and there are individuals within the Bible who died by suicide. On the opposite hand, the descriptions of individuals within the Bible who died by suicide are negative. According to the theology of the Roman church, suicide is objectively a sin that violates the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. The Orthodox Catholic Church commonly denies a Christian burial to an individual who has died by suicide. The Orthodox Catholic Church shows compassion, however, on people who have taken their own life due to mental disease or severe emotional stress once a medical practitioner will verify a condition of impaired rationality.
It provides each suicide and mass suicide as in: Jauhar, Saka, Anumarana, Agnipravesham. Some scriptures state that to die by suicide (and any form of violent death) leads to turning into a ghost, wandering earth till the time one would have otherwise died, had one not died by suicide. The sacred books talk of suicide, stating those that commit it will ne’er attain to regions (of heaven) that are blessed.
Hinduism accepts an individual’s right to finish one’s life through the non-violent practice of abstinence to death, termed Prayopavesa. Prayopavesa is for old yogis who do not have any need or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining during this life. Another example is dying in a very battle to avoid wasting one’s honor.
Sati is a ceremonial custom wherever a widow immolates herself on her husband’s funeral pyre or takes her own life in another fashion shortly when her husband’s death. The practice continuing to occur barely in Asian countries within the Eighties, though it is formally illegal.
In Islam, on the other hand, self-harm and suicide are prohibited, indicating that rates would be expected to be low. However, under these circumstances, a disclosure of suicidal thought and ideation may be artificially lower.
Jewish views on suicide are mixed. In Orthodox Judaism, suicide is prohibited by Judaic law, and viewed as a sin. Non-Orthodox sorts of Judaism might instead acknowledge the act as additional such as a death by a sickness or disorder (except in cases of purposeful aided suicide).
Social damages affect societies in many dimensions. In this regard, suicide is particularly important because targeting the most important component of human development. On the other hand, if we accept that there is a mutual relationship between social problems and social deviances, the emergence, spread of this social problem (suicide) among different levels of society lead to the birth of other new social damages.
The act of suicide is condemned in most major religious sects. Research has established that degree of religiosity is directly related to degree of suicidality, with greater religiosity predicting decreased risk of suicidal behavior. Several mechanisms have been attributed to the protective role of religion, including a decrease of aggression and hostility and an increase in reasons for living. The protective role of religion can be found across major religious denominations; thus, assessing a client’s degree of religious affiliation may serve as an effective indicator of suicide risk. The recommended clinical guidelines serve as an aid to clinicians for integrating this information into assessment protocols. Further research is warranted in religion and suicidality to better understand the relationship between religiosity and gender, age, culture, and ethnicity.
Frequently asked questions:
Q.1. What is the relation between religion and suicide?
As religion and religious values play a key role in attitudes to depression and suicide, but not all cases of suicide suffered from depression, an interesting interaction between suicide, depression, and religion, along with capacity and consent, starts to emerge.
Q.2. What are the social aspects of suicide?
many biosocial models of self-harmful behavior have incorporated family processes and social support networks and support the promotion of social cohesion and identification with societal values in the enhancement of mental health in general and the prevention of suicide.
Q.3. What are the views of Hinduism on suicide?
It provides each suicide and mass suicide as in: Jauhar, Saka, Anumarana, Agnipravesham. Some scriptures state that to die by suicide (and any form of violent death) leads to turning into a ghost, wandering earth till the time one would have otherwise died, had one not died by suicide. The sacred books talk of suicide, stating those that commit it will ne’er attain to regions (of heaven) that are blessed
Q.4. What are the views of Christianity on the suicide?
There is no specific biblical warrant condemnatory or specifically prohibiting suicide, and there are individuals within the Bible who died by suicide.
Q.5. Did religion affect the suicidal thoughts?
Research has established that degree of religiosity is directly related to degree of suicidality, with greater religiosity predicting decreased risk of suicidal behavior. Several mechanisms have been attributed to the protective role of religion, including a decrease of aggression and hostility and an increase in reasons for living.
 Maercker A. Association of cross-cultural differences in psychiatric morbidity with cultural values: a secondary analysis. German J Psychiat 2001; 4:17–23.
 Durkheim E. Suicide: A Sociological Study, 1879/1951. Tr Spaulding and Simpson. 1879/1951. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
 Mahabharata section CLXXXI
 Arvind Sharma (2001), Sati: Historical and Phenomenological Essays, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120804647, pages 19–21