A day after resident doctor Rohini Sonawane (25) was found hanging in her room on Monday, the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital authorities decided to strengthen its two-year-old suicide prevention programme for student doctors.
As part of the programme, the civic hospital’s psychiatry department had been holding workshops to sensitise the doctors about suicide and train them to spot the risk factors.
An informal ‘peer network’ was created and students were asked to talk to any peer who seemed depressed or emotionally unstable and bring him/her to a psychiatry resident or senior doctor for counselling. Over the last year, the network has identified over 25 such interns and doctors.
The department had so far been concentrating on undergraduate students and nurses. But since Dr Sonawane was doing a post-graduate physiology course, it now plans to work with postgraduate students, too.
“We will hold the sensitisation workshop at the beginning of the academic year and ask them to keep a watch on colleagues,” said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of the psychiatry department.
Dr Parkar said pressure of studies, long hours and distance from family led to stress and depression among medical students.
Apart from counselling and medication, a ‘no-suicide’ contract is also an integral part of the programme. “We make the identified student promise not to do anything till the problem is solved. We alert his family and friends and ask him to call us before even planning to do something to harm themselves,” said Dr Rueeta Athalye, a psychiatry resident.