Document Type : Research paper

Authors

1 Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and Hospital

2 Department of Psychiatry, Tairunnessa Memorial Medical College, Gazipur.

3 Department of Community Medicine, National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

4 Department of Professional Psychology, Bahria University Islamabad, Pakistan.

10.52095/gpa.2023.7115.1077

Abstract

Background: As suicide is a criminal offence in Bangladesh, determination of the perception of religious leaders on legal status would pave the ways to decriminalize suicide in the country. However, no previous attempt was noted to assess the perception of religious leaders on the criminal legal status of suicide in Bangladesh. Objectives: We aimed to see the perception of Islamic religious leaders on the legal status and decriminalization of suicide in Bangladesh. Methods: We collected data for this cross-sectional study between June and July 2023 from 162 Imams by self-reporting instrument conveniently. The questionnaire contains three sections such as socio-demographic variables, suicidal behavior, and perception on legal status and decriminalization of suicide attempts. Results: The mean age of the Imams was 38.6 ± 9.6 (range 22–63) years. Among the participants, about 18% had life-time suicidal thoughts, 7.4% had suicidal thoughts in the last year, and 6.2% had suicide attempts. More than 95% (n=155) of participants mentioned that suicide is forbidden in Islam, 73.5% mentioned that suicide is a punishable crime, 94% did not see any incident of punishment for a suicide attempt, 62% thought that persons should be sent to hospital after a suicide attempt, 58% thought that criminal legal status is harmful for suicide prevention, and 50.6% thought decriminalization would not prevent suicide. Conclusions: The findings of the study indicate that awareness programs for Islamic religious leaders should be targeted to decriminalize suicide in Bangladesh as about half of the participants’ perceptions against decriminalization.

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