Layla Hassan (not her real name) is a Muslim medical student of 22, troubled with depression and thoughts of suicide; Ajmal Masroor is an imam, founder of the Barefoot Institute for Muslim Relations, and a trained counsellor; and the Rev. Mike Parsons is an Anglican priest and author of a book on suicide as a pastoral challenge.
Together, they discuss the uneasy relationship between religious faith and suicide, with broadcaster and journalist Alison Hilliard.
For Layla, this is a condition in its own right, not the result of background calamity or family feeling, and its symptoms can be alleviated but not cured. Her faith is important to her, but she shies away from fellow Muslims who think there’s a ‘spiritual’ answer to everything.
Ajmal references the Qur’an, and takes from it the Prophet’s command to ‘cherish life’ because it is ‘a gift from God’. (Yes, says Layla, but I never asked for it.) Ajmal has a sick child, but even that could not stop him loving God.
And Mike recalls Holy Saturday, the day in between Christ’s death and resurrection, when life was vanquished, and all seemed bleak, dark, desolate. But light was to emerge from the darkness, and – says Mike – it was something we all can look forward to, however damaged we feel.
This programme is part of our Mental Health season.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme and would like to talk to somebody you can trust, call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
Information on where to seek help is also available from Mind, the mental health charity, through their Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (text 86463) or via their website by clicking the link here.