U.S. Muslims are two times more likely to have attempted suicide compared with other religious groups, according to a study published last month in JAMA Psychiatry. Nearly 8% of Muslims in the survey reported a suicide attempt in their lifetime compared with 6% of Catholics, 5% of Protestants and 3.6% of Jewish respondents.
“Anecdotally and in clinical settings, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in suicides and suicide attempts,” Dr. Rania Awaad told NPR. She’s the director of the Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab at Stanford University and a researcher on the study.
Naureen Ahmed, now 39, remembers how her family would visit her mother, Seema, at a psychiatric hospital. But the family never openly discussed why she was there.
Some days, Seema would sing along to Bollywood music at home wearing red lipstick. Other days, she’d walk around the house brandishing knives — or jump out of the car on the highway, threatening to kill herself.
Ahmed, a social butterfly at school, was hesitant to invite friends over because she never knew which side of her mother she would get that day.
It wasn’t until she was 25 that Ahmed finally learned why her mom acted that way: she had bipolar depression and schizoaffective disorder, her grandparents told her.
“It was difficult to say it out loud, this secret that I had held inside my entire life,” Ahmed told NPR.