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AIIMS lost exceptionally bright students to self-harm: Director Guleria

18/08/2020 at 12:50 PM

New Delhi, Aug 18:All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria has expressed concern over the increase in suicides in the institute and urged students as well as the faculty members to reach out for support.

The remarks came after the decomposing body of a 40-year-old AIIMS doctor was recovered from his residence.

Over the last two months, the premier institute in the capital city has seen six suicides, including that of three doctors.

“A number of unfortunate recent events have caused us great distress. This has led us to lose some of our exceptionally bright and caring students and part of our family due to self-harm,” Guleria said, reassuring that AIIMS will do everything possible to prevent its recurrence.

Alluding to a survey conducted by British Medical Journal, the AIIMS Director said that 30 per cent of students experience or have received treatment for mental health issues. He rued that it is a huge number, much more that what is seen in the general population.

“The American Medical Student Association stated that the cycle of stress, anxiety and depression takes place during medical school since students frequently lack time for enough sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise and smaller support system. I think that is something we need to work on,” he added.

Guleria, who is also the part of a core team monitoring the pandemic, said that the Coronavirus has itself taken a toll on mental health. “We, as a community, thrive on social interaction and freedom and we are suddenly forced into a life of isolation, fear and restrictions. Although we talk of physical distancing, we really do not want that there should be any social distancing.”

To deal with the issue of suicide, he said that there is a 24×7 students wellness wing led by Pratap Saran and the department of psychiatry. Five clinical psychologists run the wing.

Besides this, there is a mobile helpline and email which is available 24×7, emergency support from the department of psychiatry, skill development workshop to help in stress management, communication skills, system for providing financial assistance to students belonging to deprived backgrounds, eleven wellness clubs. A wellness website is also near completion.

Last week, the Faculty Association of AIIMS had shot a letter to the Director raising concerns over the recent suicides among undergraduate students at the institute. The letter stated there is a need to collectively think and work to provide an enabling environment for the students to prosper.

(Aakanksha Khajuria can be reached at aakanksha.k@ians.in)

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