Pandemic: Life Changes Need To Adapt And Adopt
The Covid-19 pandemic has a significant impact on mental health globally. Many people experienced indications of psychiatric symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to statistics issued by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), there were 122,328 calls for aid and psychosocial support from 1 January 2021 to 18 June 2021. This figure illustrates that many people are in difficulties amid the pandemic and need help from various aspects especially psychology and social support. Due to hardship in life, several heart breaking incidents have occurred that resulted in the rising of suicide rates in Malaysia.
Suicide cases are skyrocketing as a result of critical conditions caused by the coronavirus outbreak for nearly two years. Data reported by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) shows soaring rates of death by suicide. A total of 1708 cases were reported to the Royal Malaysia Police from 2019 until May 2021. People who committed suicide have increased from 609 cases (2019), 631 cases (2020) to 468 cases in the first five months of this year. It is indeed a significant figure and cause concern when people who are stressed are willing to take action by committing suicide. People’s physical and emotional health have suffered as a result of the pandemic, especially those who have experienced a sudden loss of income or death.
The unpredictability and uncertainty of the pandemic situation have put an additional burden on individuals’ mental health, leading to a range of psychological effects, from typical mental diseases such as anxiety and depression to suicide. The restrictions and new norms have dramatically impacted people’s lifestyles and social interactions, and the possibility of developing high levels of anxiety in addition to the fear of getting the infection. Undoubtedly, this difficult time will be the most emotionally and mentally challenging for many people. Thus, everyone has been urged to confront problematic views regarding Covid-19 and adopt flexible perspectives and balanced attitudes in order to maintain and improve our mental health throughout the critical situation of pandemic.
Suicidal thoughts and suicides can be triggered by a variety of circumstances, including medical problems, emotional and financial distress, or poverty which can be exacerbated by social isolation, a lack of family and community supports, or inability to obtain counselling or mental health services. The impact of the incident has sparked fears among the public, portraying the act of suicide as a ‘shortcut’ to solve the problem. Mental illness, sleeplessness, depression, and psychosocial factors can cause a person to commit suicide despite being aware of the religious ramification of their actions. Patients with depressive illnesses can feel helpless and hopeless and try to end their lives.
In order to identify early symptoms of depressions that may lead to suicide, people are encouraged to be more vigilant and aware of family members particularly and their adjustment disorders. Islamic principle preserves the sanctity of human life. It encourages us not to despair and do all possible efforts to get out of difficulties while also placing faith in Allah. One should be able to withstand any misfortune in life because the challenges and afflictions are within one’s capabilities. It is recorded in the Quran that, “Allah does not charge a soul except (with that within) its capacity…” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:286].
When the peaceful equilibrium is interrupted, anyone can feel melancholy and has suicidal thoughts along with other adverse mental health conditions. In this case, Islam provides some solutions for the recovery of mental and emotional balance, but not to blame their feelings. Muslims are advised to overcome with positive actions if anyone is experiencing negative thoughts or seek expert assistance if the situation is severe. Some of the behavioural practices recommended in improving mental health include; enjoying the activities that make us feel positive every day (e.g. cooking, watching movies, and gardening); eating a balanced and proper diet, managing sleeping time, exercising at home, minimizing the time of spending to read or listen to the news which may aggravate our anxiety and engaging in problem-solving particularly to reduce procrastination while learning or working from home.
Because Covid-19 related factors have a major impact on the risk of suicide, authorities should be concerned on the public’s mental health status, and prioritize on suicide prevention and awareness programs throughout the pandemic. In this matter, everyone has a role to play since the suicide prevention measures are challenging and must be done together.
Collaboration between psychiatrists, psychologist, counsellors including social workers and public volunteers are vital to promoting suicide prevention campaign through peer support groups. It also contributes in reducing the public’s stigma of mental disorders and promote help-seeking behaviours simultaneously. The engagement of mental health practitioners and the community will enhance the understanding of psychological concerns among vulnerable groups and address the knowledge gaps among the public. In addition to more awareness initiatives, this effort could offer psychosocial first aid-based helplines for the needy.
In a nutshell, this greatest communicable disease outbreak reminds us that human beings are helpless, regardless of social and financial status, advanced medical facilities and technology. This is in accordance with the Quran (surah an-Nisa’ 4:28); “And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties], and mankind was created weak.” All of us have to pray to Allah for physical and mental well-being and take precautions to safeguard ourselves by establishing preventive measures related to COVID-19.