Ujjain: Reports of medics committing suicide became frequent in media during pandemic as compared to the past. In the last six months, doctors have reportedly died by suicide in different institutions across the country. Most of them were younger than 30 years.
National Mental Health Programme advisor Dr Naresh Purohit shared these numbers with Free Press on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day.
He said that suicide among doctors is a complex, multi-factoral issue that has been plaguing the country for decades now.
Studies from across the world indicate that suicide rates among medics are higher than in the general population. According to the 2019 World Health Statistics, there are 10.6 suicides per one lakh people every year and in India it is 16.3. While studies that compare suicide rates among medics with that of the general population in India are lacking, there is no reason why it should be any different.
Dr Purohit said that suicide rates are high (relative to the general population) in many of India’s medical colleges, but only a few cases from the more prominent institutions are even reported. He added that while the risk may be higher in some institutes because of the work environment, it is a countrywide problem that is not limited to a few institutions.
He stated that many personal and systemic factors contribute to this problem. Doctors face different struggles at different stages of their career that affect their mental health and cause some to kill themselves. Medical students and interns face examination- related stresses, sleep deprivation, poor living conditions and competition from peers. Many suicides would take place during exam times.
Dr Purohit further said that caste-based discrimination and regionalism are other important factors. The Sukhdeo Thorat committee, set-up in 2007 to look into caste discrimination at higher education institutions, found in its report that 85 percent of Adivasi and Dalit students faced discrimination leading these students to attempt suicide.
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