Local Time

Friday, March 30, 2007

Checking Suicide Among Women: What We Should Do

Maha Al-Hujailan

Dr. Maha Al-Hujailan is a medical researcher at King Khaled University Hospital in Riyadh.

Our culture has set different social norms for men and women, making one enjoy an entirely different life than the other. In our society men have more freedom than women. Women must be either contented with or forced to live a life that is circled by forbidden things. Merciless families and unjust husbands add to their suffering.
Most women live in pain and misery as a result of these social taboos and they do not know where to go or who to meet to lessen their miseries or receive moral and material support. As a result they confine to themselves and get a feeling that a woman is the only person she can take revenge against. This distracted feeling leads many women to commit suicide.

People may wonder about cases of suicide in our conservative Muslim societies or any other religious society as all divine religions have prohibited that action that draws eternal punishment. The Islamic culture we have is often dominated by the culture of our families and tribes that fashions our behavior since childhood. In addition, our society suffers from a lack of affectionate and humanitarian attachment among family members. Many of us go through mental and social difficulties but when we look for a person to heed our problems with an understanding and sympathetic mind we face instead rebuke and humiliation or an indifferent attitude.

Such antipathy would only generate negative feelings and exacerbate the feeling of depression and with the passage of time would develop into mental problems such as uneasiness and paranoia. As women in our society spend most of their time inside homes they are more likely to suffer from mental stress than men. Some families exploit their weakness to oppress them and deny their rights.

For example, there are women who are forced to marry individuals without their consent. Many women have been subjected to despicable treatment by their families and husbands for reasons related to personality, children and salary. Some others undergo miseries as a result of their husbands’ drug addiction and mental problems. In the absence of medical treatment and counseling these women are likely to commit suicide as a way to run away from the painful realities of their life.

Cases of suicide are not rare in our society. We have started reading a lot of such reports in recent years. We don’t know whether they were the result of new social changes or wider media coverage. One report speaks of a 17-year-old girl in Taif who committed suicide after suffering from mental ailment. But the report did not give a reason for worsening her mental condition. She took the gun of her father to end her life. It gave a message to her father that he should take care of her mother and sisters.

Alarabiya.net published another report on Aug. 11 about two Saudi women tortured by their families. They tried to end their lives by taking pills. Fortunately doctors were able to treat them. But one of them ran away from hospital after hearing that she will be returning to the family. She is a divorced woman with less than 30 years old. She has a small child but her former husband would not allow her to see the child. The second woman, who is 25 years old, was a university student. She was treated badly by her brother for daring to use part of her monthly stipend to subscribe to Emaar Economic City and paying the bill of a dental clinic.

Okaz published another report on July 20 about a 24-year-old woman in Balqarn. Before committing suicide she had written a note to her father that she was aware that her action was prohibited in Islam but was forced to do it. The same paper carried another report about a Taif girl committing suicide after taking pills. An investigation is still under way on the case.

We cannot ignore these repeated incidents of suicide in different parts of our country. A study must be conducted on girls and women opting for this horrible method to run away from their social and family problems. I believe that we have been negligent in providing necessary treatment and counseling to women going through such difficult times.

Many of these oppressed women do not find someone to help them consult a doctor or attain counseling as they alone will not be able to do it without the support of family members. In our society women are not allowed to drive cars or go out alone without the permission of their male guardians. In such a situation I would like to suggest that the authorities establish special agencies with toll-free lines to provide counseling to such depressed men and women in order to discourage them from committing suicide.
We should also activate the role of social counselors at schools and establish centers for psychological counseling at our colleges and universities as young students, especially girls, require special care and guidance.

We should also organize seminars and other special programs to educate women and girls to help them overcome their negative feelings, inject self-confidence and develop a positive attitude toward life. I should commend the efforts being made through radio and television programs. But some of these programs are full of religious sermons and do not serve the purpose.

This again emphasizes the need for opening special agencies consisting of psychologists and sociologists to help depressed men and women. I would like to suggest that such agencies should provide their services free of charges and should be manned by experts.

[49:11] O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers.
[49:12] O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother ? Ye abhor that (so abhor the other)! And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful.

Allah Hafiz,
Ron Abdul Latif


English to Arabic to English Dictionary
Find word:
Exact Word / Starting Word Sub Word

Please Feel Free to Donate