Mental health: Why are medical students more prone to suicidal thoughts?

Medical students are at high risk of depression and suicidal ideation, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Image source: Google Image for representational purposes only
Image source: Google
Image for representational purposes only

The researchers say possible causes of depression and suicidal thoughts in medical students likely include stress and anxiety.

To conduct this study, researchers examined more than 180 studies of 129,000 medical students worldwide, including Canada. They found that the incidence of depression, in this group was 27%, compared to 8 to 9% in the general population.

The incidence of medical students with suicidal ideation was 11%. And only about 16% of students with depression went to see a doctor regarding it.

The high demands placed on medical students, including studies, night shifts in hospitals and sleep deprivation, contribute to the risk of suicide and depression

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Umang Shandiya, President of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) from JJ Hospital, Mumbai, stated, “We are dealing with post graduate students, we do not feel that much suicidal thoughts in this age group. We see more such suicidal cases in MBBS, as they have pressure to get post graduate seat. First year of MBBS is tough and it gives a lot of work pressure and some people then get depression.”

Dr Murlidhar Tambe, Dean of B J Medical College, Pune, said, “Medical courses are demanding. Students who cannot take this pressure then suffer through depression. But, this profession demands a doctor to be mentally strong as he or she will have to deal with emergency cases for all their life. The medical courses are demanding because that is how future doctors will be trained.”

Recent incidences of suicides among medical students in India

January 5, 2019 – An MBBS student from Thane committed suicide

January 14, 2019 – An MBBS student from Dehradun committed suicide by hanging

January 30, 2019 – A medical student from Nagpur attempted suicide

February 2019 – Dr Poonam Vora, a consultant radiologist from PML hospital committee suicide

Speaking about this issue which is plaguing medical students and affecting their mental health Dr Shubhangi Parkar, professor and head of the psychiatry department at Parel’s KEM Hospital, stated, “The main reason behind the rise in suicide is the cut-throat competition. Once they enter in the medical field, they have to give their best for the survival. This builds pressure on the students. ”

She added, “A number of students stay away from their families, while pursuing their degree; this is another factor that affects them. This leads to major mental disturbance and this can lead to students suffering from depression.”

While Dr Subodh Chandanshiv, President, Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) informed, “Residents doctors and students are under tremendous stress all the time. Pressure from the seniors, poor financial support, family reasons, and work pressure are contributing factors which lead to depression.”

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