Suicide and attempted suicide in Pakistan

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Suicide and attempted suicide are understudied subjects in Pakistan, an Islamic country where they are considered criminal offenses. National suicide statistics are not compiled nor are suicide mortality statistics reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Although there are strong religious sanctions against suicide, there are no clear principles against attempted suicide in Islam. Despite this, Pakistan, like many other Islamic countries, has punitive laws against attempted suicide. This has led to both suicide and attempted suicide being underdiagnosed and underreported. Data on suicide and attempted suicide are also difficult to obtain. This article gives an overview of the current state of suicide and attempted suicide in Pakistan, in the context of existing religious and legal factors, high-lighting the main findings of the few studies carried out over the last 50 years. It is important that researchers in Islamic countries like Pakistan not be deterred by the apparent low rates of suicide in these countries, but conduct further research in this important yet neglected public-health problem.