I’ll commit Suicide!
Each year, nearly as many as 9,00, 000 deaths worldwide are estimated due to suicide which accounts for more deaths than homicides and wars combined. This number is believed to be largely underestimated as suicide as a cause of death is underreported. Apart from numerous awesome ways of terminating one’s life through many of unknown ways and means, pesticide ingestion is one of the leading suicide methods.
Worldwide, an estimated three million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in an excess of 250,000 deaths. This mortality accounts for a substantial fraction of the 900,000 people who die by suicide every year. Reports suggest that it is particularly significant in rural areas, especially in some Asian countries including that in Pakistan.
It is estimated that in the last decade between 60% and 90% of suicides in China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad were due to pesticide ingestion. More recently, World Health Organization WHO received reports of a growing number of suicides due to pesticide ingestion in many other countries in Asia, as well as in countries such as in countries in Central and South America comparing to some very strange causes and ways of suicides in rural areas of Pakistan.
There are no official national data on suicide available so such a data is not included in national mortality statistics. As a result national rates on suicides are neither known nor reported to the WHO. However there is accumulating anecdotal evidence that suicides rates have been not gradually but alarmingly increasing in Pakistan over the last few years (Khan & Prince; 2003).So both suicides and attempted suicides as earlier notion were under- studied or under- researched subjects, whereas it is today one of the fairly pressing subject for many quacks, university students, concerned observers, hired personnel and above all a great deal of credit goes to a number of Non Governmental Organizations NGOs, funded by internal as well external financial sources including of a few else nature including charitable, voluntary and periodicals.
Periodicals and newspapers are mostly based on information provided by police, though reports from many smaller towns and villages are reported directly by newspapers using their own source of information. However only newspapers have direct access to police source while all other organizations use newspapers for their data. So police remains to be the primary source of information in this matter.
In conservative south Asian Islamic countries with traditionally low suicide rate, both suicide and attempted suicide are illegal acts, as well as socially and religiously condemned making research relatively difficult. Many of families Sub Continent’s Asian would rather conceal the actual cause and further prevent any approaches by any of the alien sources that could even try to collect data or even report.
In this study Police data form Sindh province (Khan & Prince; 2003) were examined that provide a unique picture of trends of suicide over 15 years (1995-1999). During this period there were 2568 reported suicides (71% men, 39% women, ratio- 1; 8). The lowest number was 90 in 1987 and maximum in 360 in 1999 with poisoning by organophosphates (pesticide) being the most common cause followed by hanging.
Pakistan with a population of approximately153.96 million, the seventh most populous country in the world, its growth rate of 2.3% is one of the highest in Asia. Ninety-seven percent of its people are Muslims, 3-5% while Hindus, Christians, and Zoroastrians from smaller but important minorities. Pakistan has an agrarian based economy; seventy percent people live in rural areas (Social Policy & Development Centre). The literacy rate is around 35%, although there is a great variation between urban areas where it is as high as 70%, to rural areas where it is as low as 4% for women. Official unemployment stands at 12% of the eligible workforce. Administratively, Pakistan is divided into four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and North Western Frontier), and one Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) Sindh is located in the south of the country with a population of approximately 30 million.
Population based prevalent studies give high figures for depression, ranging from 25% to 66% for females and 10% to 25% for males.
(Hussein, Creed and Tomenson, 2000; Mumford et al., 1997)
Although considered a criminal offence, rarely does a prosecution for attempted suicide actually ever occur, however harassment or extortion of money from the survivor of an attempt or the family of the suicide victim is not uncommon.
In attempted suicide cases especially, people avoid going to public hospitals where the police may register a case against them. Instead, people seek treatment from the private hospitals which while providing medical treatment, rarely address the underlying issues.
According to yet another independent study from January 2006 to August 2006 carried out by Madadgaar, a joint venture of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), documented the cases published in newspapers to collect information regarding human rights violation in the country, especially against children and women. Madadgaar Database reported that from January to July 2006, of 1,061 attempted suicide cases, 124 were reported in January, 125 in February, 118 in March, 156 in April, 162 in May, 172 in July and 204 cases of self-murder were reported in July 2006. Meanwhile, the report said that of the 412 cases of attempted suicide in different cities of Pakistan, 95 cases were reported in January, 84 in February, 32 in March, 50 in April, 40 in May, 45 in June, while 66 cases were reported in the print media in July 2006. According to the report, suicide was common in Sindh and Punjab, while the magnitude was less in the NWFP and Balochistan. Of 1,473 reported cases of suicide, 673 were reported in Sindh, 645 in Punjab, 121 in the NWFP and 34 cases were reported in Balochistan. The report said that 186 cases of suicide were reported from Karachi, 181 Lahore, 63 Gujranwala, 62 Faisalabad, 35 Khairpur, 44 Larkana, 30 Peshawar, 27 Hyderabad, 23 Quetta, 27 Rawalpindi and 22 suicide cases were reported from Islamabad. Up to 277 committed suicide over domestic disputes, 253 personal disappointment, 214 family dispute, 92 un-employment, 85 depression, 57 economic hardships, 26 mental illness, 19 suffering from physical ailment, 17 marriage dispute and petty dispute, while in 15 cases the reason of suicide was marital rejection. In a majority of cases, the victims were directly influenced by familial discord, socio-economic factors and environmental factors such as growing incidents of crime and violence, un-employment, social injustice and post-traumatic stress disorders. A variety of methods of committing suicide were reported in the press, as consumption of poison was reported in 371 cases, eating of poisonous pills in 232 cases, consumption of pesticide in 166 cases, hangings in 189 cases, gun shot death in 207 cases, self immolation in 51 cases, jumping in front of moving vehicle were reported in 41 cases, while in 18 cases jumping from height were reported as one of the suicide methods.
An independent survey revealed some of the teeth jittering facts during last six months in Sindh in collected from various newspaper sources, 1600 people attempted suicide due to unemployment or numerous domestic crises.
The survey report later also published in Hilal Pakistan revealed that out of dead, 350 people belonged to Larkana, 340 from Mirpur Khas, 240 from Hyderabad, 260 from Sukkur and 150 people belonged to Karachi.
Early Christianity was attracted to death as martyrdom, was something they felt called upon by their faith to permit. There were seven suicides in the Old Testament. In Mathew 27:3, the suicide of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, is perhaps a sign of his repentance or at least the recognition of his guilt.
The most notable pro-suicide group was the Donatists, who believed that by killing themselves they could attain martyrdom and go to heaven. They jumped off cliffs, burned themselves in large numbers, and stopped travelers, either offering to pay them or threatening them with death to encourage them to kill the supposed Donatist martyr. They were eventually declared heretics.
As Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, however, its views on suicide changed, gradually. In the fifth century, St. Augustine wrote the book “The City of God”, in it making Christianity’s first overall condemnation of suicide. His biblical justification for this was his novel interpretation of the commandment, “thou shalt not kill”.
In the sixth century, suicide became a religious sin and secular crime. In 533, those who committed suicide while accused of a crime were denied a Christian burial, which was a requirement for going to heaven. In 562, all suicides were punished in this way. In 693, even the attempt of suicide became an ecclesiastical crime, which could be punished by excommunication, with civil consequences following.
In modern Catholicism, suicide has been considered a grave and mortal death. The chief Christian argument is that one’s life is the property of God, and to destroy that life is to wrongly assert dominion over what is God’s. The church teachings (The Code of Canon Law p: 185, code no: 1041, const: 05) The persons awarded irregular for the reception of Holy Orders who..“One who has gravely and maliciously mutilated himself or another, or who has attempted”.
In Hinduism, murdering one’s own body is considered equally sinful as murdering another. Scriptures generally state that to die by suicide (and any type of violent death) results in becoming a ghost. However, under various circumstances it is considered acceptable to end one’s life by fasting. This practice, known as Sallekhana, requires so much time and willpower that there is no danger of acting on an impulse. It also allows time for the individual to settle all worldly affairs, to ponder life and to draw close to God.
Islam, like other Abrahamic religions, views suicide strictly as sinful and highly detrimental to one’s spiritual journey. However, human beings are judged according to their intentions. In Qur’an Majeed, the Islamic Holy Book, although Allah is said to be ‘the Most Merciful, the Most Kind’ and to forgive all sins, the great sin of unbelief is deemed unforgivable. According to the Sunnah (life and way of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH), any person who dies by suicide and shows no regret for his wrongdoing will spend an eternity in hell, re-enacting the act by which he took his own life.
The evidence of forbidding suicide is verse 29 in surah An-Nisaa( The Women) “And do not kill yourselves, surely Allah is most Merciful to you.” Qur`an 4:29
It has been reported in the collections of hadiths, in the two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah, radiAllahu anhu, in “Muslim Shareef” the book of Hadiths; (p: 72 Ed. 1st) who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
“Whoever kills himself with an iron tool, then his tool will be in his hand and he will be stabbing himself with it in the Fire of Jahannam, forever and ever, whoever kills himself with poison, then his poison will be in his hand and he will keep taking it in the Fire of Jahannam, forever and ever. Whoever kills himself from a mountain, will keep falling in the Fire of Jahannam, forever and ever, whoever takes his life by jumping off a steep cliff then he will be pushed off a cliff forever and ever.”
Suicide is forbidden in all circumstances even in war, since the Prophet spoke about the man who had been afflicted in a battle with many wounds and killed himself that he will be in the Hell fire.
According to another Hadith re quoted by Abu Hurayrah, (radi Allahu anhu), in one of the holy war against dissidents in “Jang-e-Hunain” Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) pronounced one of the diligent Muslim fighter that he will perish in hell, upon hearing such, all sahaba karam bewildered with the fact that the said man had been fighting so valiantly and fearlessly giving fatal blows to non Muslims in that war. One of the Sahaba, Aksam-bin-Abil Jofee Al-Khuzai vowed to follow him to uncover the truth. Bewildered even more however he turned when he witnessed one night the same valiant knight in his camp cringing with injuries standing the pain no more, he erected his sword on the floor and pushed himself over it killing himself.
In Qur’an Majeed in surae Ambiyah verse no: 37 parah no: 17, Allah the merciful said indeed man is not but hasty in his decision; Islam preaches humans the lesson of tolerance and patience.
With varying varieties of causes involving suicide attempts, in majority of cases, the victims are directly influenced by familial discord, socio-economic factors and environmental factors including growing incidents of crime and violence, social injustice and post-traumatic stress disorders. Nonetheless many are driven by vested political intentions; trade unions’ blackmailing concerned higher-ups, a huge number commit out of the frustration due to chronic un-employment, stifling domestic predicaments, failure to marry spouse of their choice, rape victims to save their face from escalating defame awarded by their close relatives and society, zealots failing academic or spiritual critical assessment examination, chronic impecunious circumstances faced by the sole supporter in a family.
Pakistan Panel Code Constitution under section no. 325, “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which extends to one year or with fine or both”. (Major criminal Acts, PPC-1860 p; 209 Ed.2005)
Out of more than three dozen active advocates and judges embracing more than 36 years of experience told either they have not themselves prosecuted any case with said indictment neither have they seen any of their colleagues involved actively in such prosecution. Most of them however did admit of concerned authorities of being ignorant and oblivious to such offence not until their palms are sufficiently greased either by the suicide survivor or his/her heirs afterwards. Almost all victims who survive after suicide and their relatives later face gruesome grill by local authorities, judicial representatives and NGOs making their forsaken life miserable, preparing them yet again for another practice.
I’ll commit suicide- research feature published in a daily english newspaper,Sindh Tribune
November 17, 2010 at 12:02am