The statistics on physician suicide are frightening: Physicians are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as nonphysicians (and female physicians three times more likely than their male counterparts). Some 400 doctors commit suicide every year. Young physicians at the beginning of their training are particularly vulnerable. It is just very difficult to imagine and understand that why someone who dreams to help people, who want to treat others pain and agony, will end up their own lives? But it is happening. Not only in India but across the globe. It is a matter of grave concern that the people who are treating us need help but somewhere we are failing them.
Pamela Wimble who herself is a Doctor, working in this particular field of Docotrs Suicide and doing research from a long time. She came across the cases and data that can easily be tagged as horrific and unfortunate. Recently she has spoken at the famous platform of TEDMED. Here video link is here:
We can’t talk about why it is happening around the world. But we can definitely have a look at the situation in India. India’s medical education system is getting ignored from years. The overlooking of administration and government is making it much more pathetic day by day. But can we blame only the government? Let’s talk about it one by one –
- Medical Profession is emotionally taxing! – When one has to see the pain and death as an everyday routine, it definitely brings a change inside you. Either you break down and give up or else you develop an immunity against it by developing apathy. Now this “Apathy” doesn’t only save you but It slowly kills you. Many doctors worldwide have mentioned in their last words that – “They see no point in this life, They can’t see a meaning of it”. We all need a reason to survive and when one has to see the futility of human body every day as an occupational hazard, it can definitely make you think that there is no point of taking it further. Doctor’s face this problem more than anyone else. They need much more help in this regard. But as they joke- “Oh! You are Doctor. Why do you need to seek another doctor?” Because even before we become one, we are humans, as fragile as any other patient. “Life is an illusion. It seems like space, all empty. The physical matter I feel like disappearing from this planet. I am unable to satisfy my hunger though I eat too much. I am unable to satisfy my thirst, though I drink too much. I could not feel the heat, the smell, the fragrance. The energy inside my body is drained.” – This was written by Dr. Siddharth Shankar Mahapatra who committed suicide on 17th Sep 2017 on his suicide note. Dr. Siddharth was a postgraduate student of RML Hospital Delhi. This says a lot and makes us think the core reasons of it.
- Harrasment at the workplace: As much as the society has failed us, we as doctors have failed ourself when it comes to treating our juniors. Once we cross the bridge we want the Juniors to suffer the same hardships that we suffered and sometimes resort to Harassment and Slavery of Juniors on the name of training. When doctors become the part of management they become managers of the govt policies towards doctors and does not demand better workplace. In 2014 Gynecology resident of GMC Bhopal committed suicide due to harassment at the workplace. In 2015 an Anesthesiology resident of TATA memorial Mumbai committed suicide due to work pressure. And there are Hundreds of Such examples.
- Medical Education System – The medical education is different from any other graduation. Over here you are directly dealing with the lives of people. It demands an immense amount of dedication. But Medical education takes away so much time from one’s life that somewhere it starts affecting the thought process. In medical schools, students are working for more than 36 hours at a stretch without even eating or sleeping properly. In India, they are overloaded and not even that well paid in terms of stipend. The pressure of passing the exams and practical is as immense as some sort of “Labor Pain” and after investing so much, one expects a better life which is still very far away for medical practitioners of our country.
- Mass Defamation of the fraternity – In India from last few years through many media houses there is an image created by the doctors that they are inhumane and do not concerned about the health of their patient. The only thing they are worried about is money. As much as it is forced on a mass level of Indian middle and lower class, it’s far away from the truth. No doctor in his dreams even want to lose a patient and in terms of money, the Indian Doctors are still one of the most underpaid medical fraternity and still provides the most cost effective treatment when compared all across the globe. Still, such public image the glory of the job is going down and which could be one of the many reasons of Doctor’s committing suicide.
- Personal Professional Life Conflict – It’s a very common fact that Doctor’s have to face the conflict of balancing the personal and professional life conflict. A doctor is always running for some extra time with his family and friends but in a country like India where the doctor-patient ratio is so low that a Doctor barely gets time for his or her personal life. This leads to many issues and we all know when we do not have the family support we tend to fall into the trap of mental illness.
- Bonded Labor: Medical education is the only education system in India where Bonded Labour is not only allowed but imposed by the Government. Government is not concerned about the amount of expenditure on IIT or IIM graduate but want to impose multiple bonds of Multiple years on medical graduates to shed off their own responsibility of better healthcare to the People. In some states like Tamil Nadu they have total medical education Bond period amounting to 15 years. THE BONDED LABOUR SYSTEM (ABOLITION) ACT, 1976 is apparently not applicable if government want to do the same with the Doctors.
Medical Reporters (Editorial)
Also read (Pranay Sinha NYT)