Stress in medical students: 358 suicides reported between 2010 and 2019

New Delhi: Stress in medical students is caused by strenuous medical programs, which may have physical and psychological effects on the well-being of medical students. Hence, when some students find it difficult to cope, they commit suicide to escape the challenges and pressure of the studies.

Medical education is perceived as being stressful, and a high level of stress may have a negative effect on cognitive functioning and learning of students in a medical school. It should be pointed out that most of the suicides by medical student reported in India for the past years, have indicated suicide either from depression, stress or family problems.

According to an exploratory study using online news portals and Google database reported by TH, 358 suicide deaths among medical students (125), residents (105) and physicians (128) were reported between 2010 and 2019. Around seven out of 10 suicides took place before the age of 30, said the study titled ‘Suicide deaths among medical students, residents and physicians in India spanning a decade (2010-2019).

Female residents and physicians were younger than their male counterparts at the time of suicide. Anaesthesiology (22.4%) followed by obstetrics-gynaecology (16.0%) had the highest suicide deaths. Academic stress among medical students (45.2%) and residents (23.1%), and marital discord among physicians (26.7%) were the most noticeable reasons for suicide. Mental ill-health was the next most common reason in medical students (24%) and physicians (20%), while harassment (20.5%) was a cause for residents. Upto 26% had exhibited suicide warning signs and only 13% had ever sought psychiatric help before ending their lives.

Also read- Altogether 119 Medicos Committed Suicide In The Last 5 Years, 1166 Left Institutes: NMC Reveals In RTI Reply

Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that in the last five years, altogether 119 medical students committed suicide and 1,166 students left medical colleges and institutes, the National Medical Commission (NMC) revealed while replying to a Right to Information (RTI) query.

Referring to the data submitted by 512 medical colleges in the country, the Apex medical education regulatory body, NMC has further revealed that 64 UG and 55 MD/MS students committed suicides in the last five years.

This information was shared by NMC while responding to a RTI query raised by Vivek Pandey, a social and political activist. He had sought to know from the apex medical regulator about the number of students who committed suicide during the last 5 years, and also the number of colleges who left the colleges and institutions during that period.

Giving breakup regarding the number of students who left medical colleges, NMC revealed that altogether 160 UG medical students left institutes. In case of PG medical courses, 114 MS General Surgery, 50 MS Orthopaedics, 103 OBG, 100 MS ENT, 56 MD General Medicine, 54 MD Paediatrics, 529 students belonging to other specialties left the colleges during this time.

The Apex medical commission had also directed all the medical colleges and institutes providing PG medical training to address the issues to PG medicos (resident Doctors).

For the same, the medical colleges had been directed to take numerous steps which range from ensuring adequate rest, weekly off, counseling for those who are under stress, arranging Yoga sessions on regular basis, sanctioning leave when required and respecting their dignity by providing a positive conducive working environment.

On March 26, a 21-year-old medical student from Pune, Maharashtra committed suicide by jumping to death from the terrace of the Sassoon General Hospital due to the stress of studies and examinations and fear of failing the examination. 

In another instance, a 19-year-old NEET aspirant committed suicide by hanging herself to death in a hostel room in Chennai, Tamil Nadu after being scared of failing the NEET examination.

On March 11, An 18 year old NEET aspirant from Bihar allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan in her hostel room in Kota. 

At the first week of March, a final-year medicine student at the Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences (BRIMS) committed suicide by jumping off a seven-storey building in Bidar district of Karnataka. The student was suffering from depression.

Speaking about the rising suicide cases, Rimy Dey, committee head, postgraduate studies, Indian Medical Association-Junior Doctors Network said “Suicide is a complex, multifactorial issue. The gruelling 24×7 shifts, untimely working hours, distance from family, hostile work environment and unsupportive administration, sleep deprivation, financial hardships, examination stress, inhumane ragging sometimes, confounded by caste-based discrimination and regionalism are some of the hardships that student doctors face,”

She added that “The risk of suicide among doctors is almost 2.5 times more than the general population. Sadly, not much has been done or talked about.”

Also read- MBBS Student From Bidar Institute Of Medical Sciences Commits Suicide By Jumping Off 7-Storey Building

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