Carlos M. Quijada
Aug 26, 2021
For many years, spirituality and religion were believed to have nothing to do with Psychology and other mental health disciplines (Verghese, 2008). Nonetheless, in recent decades, spirituality has been found to have a crucial role in the overall wellbeing of the individual. More and more mental health professionals are embracing its importance in the lives of people, as it involves the ways in which people fulfill what they hold to be their life purpose. As personal and unique as it is, spirituality extends across creed and culture. It is truly a sacred realm of the human experience, which, as Verghese puts it, “produces […] qualities such as love, honesty, patience, tolerance, compassion, a sense of detachment, faith, and hope.” However, when spirituality is institutionalized, and thus becomes an organized religion, it can turn into an agent of oppression, division, and rivalry. Yet, religion is meant to help people practice their spirituality and make sense of their lives. It can be instrumental when dealing with the existential crises that humans face at times, and the deep pains that come with them.
When it comes to suicide, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is a tragic reaction to a stressful situation (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Though the symptoms that lead to considering self-harm as an option vary significantly from one person to the other, it is safe to say that a common denominator is a crisis that involves one’s existence. Such situation can be so overwhelming that it is too hard for the individual to cope, and there is the mindset that the problem is beyond repair. The Mayo Clinic describes it as having a “tunnel vision,” and not seeing any other way out. Those who are suicidal feel hopeless, worthless, and lonely. Their existence no longer makes sense!
Because suicidal thoughts, and the overall mental health, encompasses every aspect of the human being – soul, mind, body, spirit – it is essential for clinicians to incorporate a holistic approach when helping their clients. The reality is that one cannot address every life issue by just focusing on some of these areas, while ignoring others. Each person is a complex being, and all these areas are deeply interconnected, and they operate as one. Recent studies have shown the benefits that religious beliefs and spiritual practices have on mental health and serve as a support to cope with life’s stresses (Verghese, 2008). In many instances, it is a matter of exploring the patient’s beliefs and spirituality, and to assess how it can become a source of strength when dealing with symptoms that exceed the ability to cope. This exploration can potentially provide opportunities to not just further build the therapeutic alliance. It would also aid the client in searching for the meaning of a purposeful life and eventually discover that there are reasons to be alive and look forward to a future of hope and spiritual healing.
In conclusion, suicide is an ill that comes with an array of other mental health issues. It respects no age group, ethnicity nor social-economic status. In addition, suicide can be prevented. Therefore, mental health providers have a key role in helping people who are suicidal see that there is hope. There will be times in which material things or cognitive interventions might not get to the root of the problem. But by offering a balanced intervention of body, soul, mind and spirit, this will leave room for a more ample view of the person’s uniqueness.
Mayo Clinic (2021), Suicide and suicidal thoughts. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048
Verghese, A. (2008). Spirituality and mental health, Indian Journal of Psychology v.50(4), pp. 233-237.