Student Life Matters
Academic Distress and Student Suicides in India: A Crisis That Needs to be acknowledged.
More students died by suicide than farmers in 2020, yet, while farmers’ suicides are widely recognized as a crisis in India, students’ suicides are increasingly swept under the rug.
India’s adolescent and youth population – people below the age of 25 – accounts for 53.7% of the population. Yet, most of these youths are not employable as they lack the requisite skills.
Another pressing concern for India’s youth population is a high number of suicides. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2020, a student took their own life every 42 minutes; that is, every day, more than 34 students died by suicide.
It is alarming that this is not being recognized as a grave crisis.
College is a time of significant transition. Many students are living away from home for the first time and have less access to support from family and friends. Along with increased freedom and independence, students face greater stress from a variety of sources, such as: increased academic demands, adjusting to a new environment, and developing a new support system. College also provides an opportunity to experiment with alcohol and other drugs, which may compound problems with mood and increase the risk for suicide.
Understanding Your Thoughts and Emotions
To believe that something has great value is to respond with great joy when it is present, with great fear when it is threatened, with great grief when it is lost
What’s happening to me?
There are crossroads in life where trauma and the desire to keep going in life intersect. It’s a busy intersection where on the outside everything seems to be whizzing past you, almost crashing into you, yet on the inside there is a deafening and throbbing lull. This lull is not peace, but a numbness that develops after feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place for so long.
On your bad days, the questions may be less exploratory and more emphatic, like:
- I hate my life
- Nothing ever works out for me
- Everything about me and my existence is terrible
- Thoughts about not wanting to continue life during times of adversity can alternate between feeling strangely right and feeling very scary
- Many people get worried not just about experiencing thoughts of death, but also what those thoughts mean:
- If I think about ending my life, does this mean I’m crazy?
- What would others think about me if they found out I had these thoughts?
- Will these thoughts ever go away?
- What if I’m going to feel this way forever?
Black-and-white thinking is one of the most common types of unhealthy ways of thinking and occurs when a person develops extreme views about people, objects, or ideas—including religion. It is the inability to see gray in between the two extremes. This type of polarized thinking can happen at any time and for some people it happens often when they are under continuous distress. Common everyday examples include:
“Why Bother Living if the Future is filled with Pain?”
Reclaiming Our Thoughts
- Black-and-white thinking starts all the way back in infancy.
- Black-and-white thinking in healthy, typical development gradually disappears from infancy through adolescence, but it’s not unusual for even healthy adults to fall into black-and-white thinking on occasions.
- Common examples include:
- “I got all Cs for my midterm grades so there is no point in continuing on with the semester.”
- My friend didn’t respond to my text for two days, I’m totally done with the friendship.”
- In high-pressure situations, the fight, flight, or freeze instinct can make black-and-white thoughts even darker and harder to ignore.
- The flight response is not always about physically leaving; it can also involve impulsively removing yourself from the picture. You might have had thoughts like: “What’s the point in continuing with life?”
Let’s be real- every time you fail, we have two options
The first option is to take your failure and spiral downward in a cycle of depression, anxiety, grief, letting those negative feelings control your further actions. Dwelling on failure and taking the dark road of coping with failure further stunts growth and leads to more failures.
The second option is to convert failure into success by knowing who is your creator, why did He create you, what is the real success, what is life of contentment, how to take on the worldly failures in life and the reality of this temporary life on this earth and an everlasting eternal life promised by God after our death in the paradise.
Failure liberates us
We enslave ourselves to our own expectations as well as the expectations of our parents, peers and society. We have grown up molding ourselves around such terms: “perfection”, “being the best”, “from among the toppers”. Failure liberates you from living up to the rigid mark that has been created by others for you. Failure allows you to fail. Failure gives you room to breathe. And as for the judgments from others? Let it be known to yourself that only those who are deeply afraid of failure judge the failure of others. And you, my friend, should shove their judgments aside and continue to ascend.
Why Mental Health Matters
The teachings of Islam emphasize the importance of taking care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Psychologically the stress results from the following factors.
- Fear of the unknown, and our inability to recognize, foresee and control it.
- Loss of things, and people in our life dear to us, and our inability to recover these losses or accept them.
- Our inability to see through the future. In fact we might be more stressed if we do see the future.
- Conflicts between the mind, and the reality and our failure to accept the reality (i.e. the phase of denial). It is the lack of the inner peace due to our internal conflicts which leads to the external disturbances in our behavior and affects our health
Quranic Reflection on Stress Factors
Let us examine how the Quran deals with such situations. Our losses are a part of trial for us: Our Creator Almighty Allah says “Be sure We will test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives, but give glad tidings to those who are steadfast, who say when afflicted with calamity: To God we belong and to Him is our return. They are those on whom (descend) blessings from God and mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.” (Quran 2:155)
Whatever we are given is a gift from God. We are not their owners. Everything belongs to God and returns to Him. So if we don’t own these things why mourn their loss or wax proud on receiving them.
Only God knows what our ultimate destiny is. We cannot peek into our future. We do, however, have a limited free will; we are free to choose between good or bad, to believe in God or not to believe in Him, but we have no control over future not related to our ability to act in the present.
What Should We Do In Panic And Despair?
In panic situations if we are not connected to our creator then we have no one to turn to, we know and believe not in any life other than this worldly life, over which they have no control. Naturally they get more depressed which in turn leads them to even more wrong doing.
In a state panic, Islam advises the human beings the following:
- Increase remembrance of God: Almighty Allah, our Creator says in Holy Quran – “He (Allah) guides to Himself those who turn to Him in repentance – Those who have believed and whose heart have rest in the remembrance of God. Verify in the remembrance of God, do hearts find rest”. (Quran 13:27-28)
- Be constant in prayers: “O you who believe, seek help with steadfastness and prayer. For God is with those who are steadfast”. (Quran – 2:153)
- Increase Quranic Recitation: “O mankind! There has come to you a direction (Quran) from you Lord, and a healing for (the disease in your) heart, and for those who believe a guidance, and mercy. (Quran – 10:57)
The echo of sound has a medical effect, and is now widely utilized. The recitation of Quran or listening to the same has a wholesome effect on the body, the heart and the mind. It is said that the letter ‘alif’ (Arabic letter of Quran) echoes to the heart and latter ‘ya’ echoes in the pineal gland in the brain. Dr. Ahmed El Kadi of Akbar Clinic, at Panama City, Florida, conducted and has published the effects of listening to the Quranic recitation on physiological parameters i.e. the heart rate, the blood pressure and the muscle tension and reported improvement. Obviously it can postulated that those who can understand and enjoy the recitation, with a belief in it as word of God, will get maximum benefit.
Purpose of Life
Almighty Allah Our Creator and Sustainer says in Holy Quran: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an; 51:56).
Purpose of Education is to know, Fear and Worship God And Serve God’s Creation
…Of all of Allah’s servants, only the knowledgeable ˹of His might˺ are ˹truly˺ in awe of Him. Allah is indeed Almighty, All-Forgiving. (Quran – 35:28)
Undoubtedly the human civilization needs its members to be pioneers in both humanities and sciences. Islam is the religion of knowledge, and Allah, may He be exalted, began His revelation of Quran to His Last Prophet Muhammed (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) with the word: “Read (Iqra in Arabic)”. Islam urges people to seek knowledge, highlights the high status that knowledge should have and made the learning of different branches of knowledge an obligation.
Islam encourages us to become specialists in all permissible branches of knowledge and skills, including medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, nuclear and atomic science, military fields, heavy industry, and other branches of knowledge and skills.
The reality of this world
Almighty Creator Allah SWT says “Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children. This is like rain that causes plants to grow, to the delight of the planters. But later the plants dry up and you see them wither, then they are reduced to chaff”. (Quran – 57:20)
Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler/wayfarer, When evening comes, do not expect (to live till) morning, and when morning comes, do not expect (to live till) evening. Take from your health (a preparation) for your illness, and from your life for your death.”
Giving precedence to this world over the hereafter
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘But you prefer the worldly life, While the Hereafter is better and more enduring” (Quran – 87:16, 17)
“Say, the enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who fears Allah. And injustice will not be done to you, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed]”. (Quran – 4:77)
Dying for a Worldly Gain and competition
There are times that we are so blind to the path we are on that we don’t really stop to think about where it is leading us. So, Allah blesses us by placing an obstacle in our path, thereby guiding us to another path.
Hasn’t the past already taught us that each and every obstacle in our lives eventually turned out for the best? Then why is it that every time another obstacle comes, we doubt and lose faith? Truly, it is possible that you do not like something, yet Allah will place much good in it.
Almighty Allah says in Holy Book Quran revealed to the Last Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) “Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know”. (Quran – 2:216)
God gives abundantly to whom He will and sparingly to whom He pleases. God has full knowledge of all things. (Quran – 29:62)
And the Prophet Muhammed (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever is mainly concerned about the Hereafter, Allah will make him focused and content and will make him feel independent of others, and his worldly affairs will fall into place. But whoever is mainly concerned with this world, Allah will make him distracted and unfocused and will make him fear poverty constantly, and he will get nothing of this world except what is decreed for him.”
Failure in Exams Is Not the End, It’s the Start
At the end of the day, Competitive Exam is not the end of the tunnel; it is just one of the tunnels that will lead you to the end. If not that, you have many more tunnels to take!” What is the actual End, you are trying to achieve anyways?
More than the Success, what makes your story extraordinary are your failures and the courage we show while overcoming them. What is the actual Success, you know will lead to happiness?
Success according to our Creator Almighty Allah
“This is the Book (Quran) about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Prophet Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” [Surah Baqarah; 2:2-5]
In Islam a human life is not restricted to only the life on Earth. Human beings’ decisions are influenced by benefits and consequences in the afterlife. True success is the success of the eternal life. This does not restrict the pursuit of success in worldly terms. However, there is an emphasis on intentions behind worldly pursuits–whether they are for the pleasure of our Creator and sustainer Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) or for other purposes.
If success is only about the accumulation of material gains, climbing the corporate ladder, and breaking the glass ceiling, then what about the person who accumulates all these through immoral means? Is this fair and is it true success?
Such pursuits only bring a temporary feeling of happiness and achievement. No sooner does one accomplish a worldly goal, he moves swiftly thereafter from climax to anti-climax because, although the achievement brings euphoria, perhaps it does not truly fulfill his soul. And so perhaps he may go after a new pursuit, or perhaps he may give up altogether and find other ways to fill the void–such as entertainment and idle habits.
Lasting peace of mind and contentment, on the other hand, is better worth striving for than temporary joy. This necessitates that one begins by pondering about how he came into existence, his purpose on Earth, and where he is headed. Subsequently he must equip himself to fulfill that purpose and strive for a good destination by living in accordance with the Creator’s terms and conditions (which are ultimately in the best interests of man himself).
Your Feeling Matters
Changing Your Mind, Body, and Heart Overcoming black-and-white thinking is no easy feat, but it can be done with self-compassion, commitment, and a lot of practice.
- You matter
- Your feelings matter and your future matters
- Allah put you on this earth for good reason and does not want you to end your life
- He wants you to stay and find your way back to Him when it’s the right time
- If you have had this type of thinking all your life, then understand it cannot be undone with the flick of a switch
- Looking at the world in black-and-white can not only deeply embed itself in your way of thinking, but in how your body responds to the environment around you as well
- Some days your physical and mental urges to get caught up in the fight, flight, or freeze response will be stronger than others, and that is ok. The more you practice riding out those emotional waves, the easier it will be to tame them. Over time, you will notice that the black-and-white thinking still exists but the feelings will be less intense, less frequent, and less impactful.
What is Suicide?
The word “suicide” is defined as the act of intentionally killing oneself. Suicide has two types; the first one is active suicide which means take own life in a direct way such as by using poison, knife, spear, rifle, jump from height or in fire and the other one is passive suicide which means going to refrain from striving to remain alive, for example stop eating and drinking, not treating or taking care of wound which you know later become the cause of death, not trying to escape from fire, stay motionless in water and there are so many other examples also.
Almighty Allah has not permitted His believers to commit suicide in any of these ways. In Islam it is considered as a major sin, which is proved by verses of Holy Quran and sayings of the last Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
Allah says: “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”(Quran – 6: 151)
Put a Strong Belief on your Creator
In times of painful situations we are compelled to remain patient and fight against sufferings, injustice without worrying about their future possible incomes. We are not allowed to attempt suicide in order to avoid affliction. We must have a strong belief on your creator that He is ever Merciful and knows best.
It is stated in Quran that: “And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.” [Qur`an 4: 29]
God is the Best Planner and He Knows all
Humans are not capable to think widely about their lives but God knows very well about our futures and existence. Our Lord has created us with both good and bad times, if we are able to understand and accept that reality of life then never lose hope in difficult situations, but trust on God that one day that time definitely ends.
Allah says: “Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (Alone). It is He Who sends down rain and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: or does anyone know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Quran – 31-34)
God does not give this Right to Anyone to take his own or others Life
Islam advises mankind that life is not like a property of us, rather it is granted to every human being as a trust. Neither it is allowable for a person to take another human’s life without justification, nor it is permissible for one in Islam to destroy own existence; God has declared both of them as grave sins.
It is mentioned in Quran that:
“It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death: and those that die not (He takes their souls) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the Decree of Death He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (back their souls to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 39:42)
Day of Death is already decided by the Creator before Birth
Indeed, every person’s place and time of death is declared by God, but when an individual has committed suicide then he will certainly be held accountable for planning to take his own life and satisfying his purpose. God has granted us free will and by utilizing it if we are taking our own life then, that use of our free will is exactly what we will be punished for in hereafter.
Our Creator Allah says that: “Wherever ye death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high.” [Quran 4:78]
“Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave; the term being fixed as by writing.” [Quran – 3:145]
We must be thankful to what Allah has given us because he plans the best for His servants. Taking one’s own life is the thankless act towards Allah which Allah does not like.
Make Allah (S.W.T) Your Support System
We all need emotional support during difficult times. Make Allah (S.W.T) your support system and you will glide through. Remember Allah (S.W.T) truly cares about your ultimate success- more than you care about yourself.
“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? In Allah, then, let believers put their trust.” (Quran – 3:160)
No matter how huge your failures appear to you right now, true failure is giving up on yourself and Allah S.W.T. We also seem to forget that Allah (S.W.T) does not only inflicts us with hardships…
Verily along with every hardship is relief, verily, along with every hardship is relief. (Quran 94: 5-6)
Parents Critical Role in Childs education
Our advice is that those who want to specialize in a particular field should already have an inclination towards and aptitude for that field. It is well-known that students, vary with regard to what they have an inclination towards, and it is better to encourage each of them to pursue the fields in which they are interested and have an inclination towards, and not to force them to learn something they are not interested in, let alone force them to do something that they dislike.
Start with Faith and righteous deeds
This is the greatest and most fundamental of means. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).” (Quran – 16:97)
Allah tells us and promises us that whoever combines faith with righteous deeds will have a good life and a good reward in this world and in the Hereafter. “And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will be sufficient for him.” (Quran – 65:3)
If a person experiences anxiety and distress because of a disaster, then one of the most effective means of relieving himself of that is to think of the worst scenario to which that may lead, and try to accept that. When he has done this, then he should try to alleviate it as much as possible. By means of this acceptance and these efforts, he will relieve himself of his worries and distress, and instead of worrying he will strive to bring about good things and to deal with whatever he can of the bad things.
Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary things that bad thoughts may bring to mind. For when a person gives in to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts, such as fear of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the loss of good things, it will fill him with worries, distress, mental and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which will have a bad effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people have seen; how often have these things had an effect upon the hearts of many strong people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to foolishness and insanity.
It should be noted that your life will follow your train of thought. If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your spiritual or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy. Otherwise it will be the opposite.
The person who is safe from all of this is the one who is protected by Almighyt Allah and helped by Him to strive to achieve that which will benefit and strengthen the heart and ward off anxiety.
Reliance on God has cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational components. In a cognitive conception, individuals perceive God as the first order cause of everyday events. Nothing can take place without permission from divine being. In the emotional level, individuals attain readiness and inclination to put their trust in God, and find Him sufficient to take care of them. Its behavioral component which is easily observable means carrying out individuals’ plan through permissible and lawful means of action. In a relational level seeking God’s proximity and believing in His availability and support are considered crucial.
Gratitude to the Creator
Gratitude is about acknowledging blessings by heart, and utilizing them well through our limbs. Allah is the Giver of everything we have, yet we ourselves are unable to enumerate what we possess. So our gratitude can never be complete–it is a continuous state.
Gratitude increases blessings, reward, and earns the pleasure of Almighty Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). “And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them…” [Qur’an; 16:18] “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Qur’an; 14:7]
A Prophetic supplication that can help in cultivating this quality: “O Allah, help me remember You, expressing gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner”
Ibn al-Qayyim (a great Islamic Scholar) explains, “the past can never be changed or corrected with sadness, but rather with contentment, gratitude, patience, a firm belief in destiny controlled by Almighty and the verbal recognition that everything occurs by the Decree of Almighty Allah”.