This tweet is what motivated me to write the following piece. I did not click and read the article – as I write this I have still not read it, mostly because I’m a little afraid of the emotion it’s going to invoke in me when I finally do read it.
Very often, the only response to the people brave enough to come forward to their loved ones, elders and other assorted people is a kneejerk one – suicide is haram. Self-harm is haram. You’re not allowed to do those things so just put them out of your mind and stop.
You don’t want to burn in Hell, do you?
These admonishments are perhaps well meant but they do very little good.
I’ve thought about killing myself on a number of occasions. I’ve planned it out in my head, figured out just how to make sure that my possessions would be disposed of as per my wishes and how to do it so that no one else would have to deal with such awful things as cleaning up after a rotting corpse.
The reminder that suicide is haram did help me – I never got to the stage where I didn’t care about officially dooming myself to Hell, shukr and the impermissibility of the act was one more thing I used to talk myself down. That reminder froze me in place. It did not help me get better.
While I wasn’t harming myself, I was still miserable and sick and drowning. I needed more than a reminder. I needed to be told that yes, my actions and urges were self-destructive and that wasn’t good but they were understandable. They were fixable. To use a cliche; there was light at the end of that tunnel (and not the light that every movie character doesn’t want you to go into).
The guilt from suicidal urges is crushing. It gives you yet another thing to hold over your own head and curse yourself for. Not particularly conducive to healing.
What else can you do?
Don’t condemn people for their sins. Remind them that forgiveness is waiting for those who sincerely repent. If you’re able, remind them that they matter. That people care.
To anyone reading this who’s been struggling – with self-harm, with depression or anxiety or any one of a thousand other things – I am truly sorry for your struggle and I pray that it gets easier for you. You are so incredibly strong to have kept going.