This 12 months, 9/11 holds a twin significance for People throughout the nation. It not solely marks the twentieth anniversary of the tragic occasions and lives misplaced since Sept. 11, 2001, but in addition Nationwide Suicide Prevention Consciousness Week. For American Muslims who’re each victims of elevated charges of Islamophobic violence and survivors of suicide makes an attempt, this juxtaposition is very stark.
Within the subject of public well being, Islamophobia is acknowledged as akin to racism in the way it results in destructive bodily and psychological well being outcomes. However this definition misses the essential components of structural violence and social stigma that underlie the hate crimes and microaggressions American Muslims face. These components should not solely the important thing elements in such acts of social violence, but in addition the identical danger components for particular person self-directed violence, which is the definition of suicide.
I’m the primary self-identifying Muslim American to obtain federal funding from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being to conduct grassroots psychological well being analysis inside the American Muslim group. I determine as a sufferer of Islamophobic violence and a survivor of a suicide try. The speculation of my analysis is that the previous twenty years of anti-Muslim stigma within the sociopolitical local weather of post-9/11 America have created the vital situations for younger Muslims in America to internalize self-hatred and finally try suicide.
Suicide disparities and danger components in American Muslims
Suicide is a main public well being concern worldwide. It’s a high 10 main explanation for loss of life on this nation and the No. 1 main explanation for loss of life in sure populations. A July 2021 examine revealed that American Muslims report two instances the percentages of a suicide try of their life in comparison with different religion teams. These findings counsel a disparity and point out that there’s a distinctive set of things that will increase American Muslims’ danger of suicide.
Typically, there are various components that contribute to suicide danger. A few of these embrace a previous historical past of psychological sickness, realizing somebody who beforehand tried suicide and getting access to deadly means like weapons. Analysis research on suicide danger in American Muslims, nevertheless, should particularly account for our distinct expertise of being racialized, stigmatized and “othered” in post-9/11 America. Given the distinctive expertise of Islamophobia that Muslims in America face, a scientific deal with these social components is important for research on American Muslims.
A 2019 Pew Analysis Middle survey measuring the extent of heat or coldness that U.S. adults felt towards sure spiritual teams discovered that Muslims had been positioned towards the extremes of the chilly finish of the dimensions. A 2017 survey from Pew discovered that half of U.S. adults stated Islam just isn’t part of mainstream society and perceived a minimum of some Muslims as anti-American.
These attitudes level to how being a Muslim has been stigmatized in America. There’s ample proof that stigma is a basic explanation for well being disparities, particularly because it pertains to suicide amongst folks with minority identities. I argue that the stigma of being Muslim in America leads to publicity to Islamophobic violence that may result in elevated suicide danger and disparity.
The intersectionality of Muslim American identification
However being Muslim just isn’t the one type of stigma and structural violence that American Muslims face. American Muslims are a very heterogenous group with numerous backgrounds as racial minorities and pressured and voluntary migrants. Coming from over 77 international locations, practically 80% of us are first- or second-generation immigrants, and the bulk are racial and ethnic minorities. It’s the mixed identities of being a Muslim, a racial or ethnic minority and of immigrant-origin that leads to intersectional stigma– these identities converge and work together with one another in methods that may negatively have an effect on well being.
Subsequently, a extra scientifically correct understanding of Islamophobia endorses the intersectionality of our stigma as a key variable contributing to suicide danger. Analysis on American Muslims addresses the dearth of scientific information on culturally particular social components of suicide. But for American Muslims, what components contribute to our danger for suicide and what protecting components construct our resilience are nonetheless to be uncovered.
Challenges in American Muslim psychological well being analysis
Previous to 2006, the PubMed analysis database returned fewer than 70 search outcomes on “Muslim” and “psychological well being.” Main grants for funding analysis on this subject had been nonexistent. The launch of the Journal of Muslim Psychological Well being that 12 months tried to fill this important analysis hole. At present, the over 700 search outcomes with the phrases “Muslim” and “psychological well being” nonetheless characterize lower than one-thousandth of a p.c of over 320,000 outcomes on psychological well being general. Evidently, the examine of suicide in American Muslims itself faces disparities.
A significant barrier to increasing analysis on American Muslim psychological well being is entry to federal funding. The Nationwide Institute on Minority Well being and Well being Disparities designates sure teams as disparity populations, which doesn’t embrace religion teams. Whereas Muslims represent just one% of the U.S. inhabitants, we’re projected to change into the world’s largest religion group by the second half of this century. Even so, knowledge on American Muslim well being is lacking resulting from a scarcity of analysis sources and scientific curiosity.
Analysis on American Muslims depends on choose components of our identities as racial minorities and immigrants to qualify for analysis funding. However these qualities alone don’t totally seize American Muslim lived experiences with Islamophobia and faith-based stigma, prejudice and discrimination. With out knowledge and analysis on our group, American Muslims is probably not thought of a disparity group beneath present classifications and due to this fact miss important funding alternatives.
Suicide analysis on American Muslims could advance insights throughout numerous communities
What’s going to America appear to be by the point we mark the fiftieth anniversary of 9/11?
By 2051, the diversification of the American inhabitants will reveal a majority minority racial and ethnic demographic. Already, the vast majority of youth beneath 18 are folks of coloration. Forty years from now, first- and second-generation immigrants will embody over a 3rd of the inhabitants.
Alarmingly, second-generation immigrants worldwide are thought of an at-risk group for suicide. The various new generations in America are born into antagonistic situations that expose them to race-based trauma and minority stress, or the cumulative destructive well being results brought on by racism and by being part of a stigmatized minority group, respectively.
The intersectional discrimination that American Muslims already expertise at this time makes a robust case that we’re a vital reference group with regards to future psychological well being analysis on numerous and marginalized communities. The immense worth of culturally related analysis on suicide amongst American Muslims is obvious from its substantial potential to use throughout totally different racial, ethnic and immigrant teams.
Insights from the American Muslim lived expertise could present science with the instruments to verify suicide in minority communities turns into a factor of the previous.
If you’re scuffling with suicidal ideas, please name the suicide helpline now at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline web site. You aren’t alone and there’s hope.
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