What’s fueling Chitral’s high rate of suicide cases?

For years, suicide cases in Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan have been haunting the mountain communities, but a fresh wave of suicides has left them baffled. Ahmad Faraz sheds light on the issue with a nuanced understanding of the local milieu.

By Ahmad Faraz

Confusion between modernism and westernization may lead to anomie and a high level of anomie contributes to increasing rates of suicides.

Eminent French sociologist Emile Durkheim aptly states this as he describes anomie to be a major cause behind suicide cases.

The simplest elaboration of anomie is that it is a condition of instability resulting from the breakdown of standards and values.

Now, how could one make sense of the possible catalysts behind the lofty level of anomie? Especially in the context of Chitral.

As we know that Chitral being a remote part of a Third World country has come out from a gloomy past and in transition moving fast towards an unpredictable future.

The major factor, which I observe in the context of Chitral, is the confusion between modernism and westernization, chiefly stemming from the misunderstanding or lack of cognizance of modernity.

The fundamental distinction between these two terms is that comparing oneself with a set of people, i.e. Western people, and trying to live according to their standards refers to westernization. In reality, being modern means thinking and acting primarily based on principles rather than analogy. But unluckily, we prefer comparison over thought and action.

This analogy creates a superficial feeling to live according to the standards of distant civilizations, who quite a long time ago entered into the era of modernity, which we are still far away from.

Such longing for an ideal lifestyle leads to a psychological disorder. Here, social media plays a crucial role by connecting the remote part of the world to the “advanced” world which as a result becomes an “unachievable” yet “ideal” place for a member of the “backward” society.

Torn between two very different worlds, the individual gets confused and adopts a materialistic approach to achieve that state which consequently becomes a major cause of unpleasant events like suicide.

Emile Durkheim’s theory has a lot to offer in this regard. Those trying to make sense of the subject must read it.

Ahmad Faraz is a student of Sociology at the University of Peshawar


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