Every year nearly 1 million people around the world die by suicide, accounting for 2% of the total burden of disease. Despite years of research, our ability to predict suicidal behavior is only slightly better than chance. The protective nature of religion against suicide, however, is well-documented in research, but no studies to date have definitively determined why or how it occurs, particularly in relation to Islam. Explanatory theories suggest certain religiously-inspired character virtues such as altruism and grit may serve as potential protective factors against suicide.
We seek an 18-month pilot grant with the aim of elucidating Islam’s exact pathways of protection, including beliefs, virtues, and explanatory frameworks. We will 1) meet with interdisciplinary scholars of theology, suicidology, psychology and psychiatry to determine the influence of Islamic spiritual worldview on the development of virtues that may play a role in suicide resilience, 2) analyze data from both expert and experiential interviews, 3) design and pre-test a cross-sectional survey that will extrapolate the protective virtues and practices against suicide. Ultimately, our findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals and disseminated at national conferences.