Turkish Imams' Experience with and Their Attitudes Toward Suicide and Suicidal Persons

J Relig Health. 2017 Jun;56(3):817-827. doi: 10.1007/s10943-016-0217-8.


This study investigated the experience with and attitudes toward suicide and suicidality in 70 consenting imams serving in mosques in the province of Aydin which is located at the southwest part of Turkey. A self-report questionnaire was used to collect the data. Attitudes of imams to suicide and suicidality were compared with attitudes of male university students. Only 4 imams (5.7 %) reported having had suicidal thoughts in past, and none reported having attempted suicide. Almost 50 % said that someone in communities they serve has commited suicide and nearly 40 % reported leading funeral ceremony for someone who committed suicide. Majority of imams (64.3 %) were of the opinion that a funeral ceremony should be arranged for people who suicide and 87.1 % were of the opinion that people who suicide can be buried in a common cemetery, but only 21.4 % said that someone who attempted suicide can be appointed as imam. Compared to male medical students, imams saw suicide as an unacceptable option and those engaging in suicidal behavior to be punished after death. But they displayed socially accepting and helping reactions to an imagined close friend who attempted suicide. Therefore, it was concluded that imams might exhibit preventive reactions to suicide when they offer counseling for persons from their congregations during times of suicidal crises.

Keywords: Attitude; Imam; Suicide; Turkey.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Clergy / psychology*
  • Clergy / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey
  • Young Adult