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On the Brain
March 14, 2022

A Conversation About Suicide During Medical Training

Author Affiliations
  • 1Indigenous Services Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Neurol. 2022;79(5):439-440. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.0117

“Amole is a crybaby.” These words from a grade school teacher represent the moment I learned as a young boy that it’s not okay to feel sadness, a lesson perpetuated in medical training that keeps many trainees from asking for help.1 Unfortunately for me, this sadness would become a lifelong struggle. In medical school, I experienced chronic depression and at times was consumed by self-doubt and the core belief that I was defective. By the time I graduated, I thought I had overcome my mental health struggles. Residency would be a fresh start, I believed, not realizing how fragile I still was.

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1 Comment for this article
This should be required reading for all med students and residents
Paul Joannides, Psy.D. | Self, private practice and author
Thank you for this well written and very important article. I hope it will become required reading in all medical schools and hospital residency programs.

More than 35 years ago, when I was doing research in Child Development, I spent several days a week in pediatrics at a major university hospital. Although I had little experience as a psychoanalyst and was still in training, I couldn't help but notice how depressed many of the peds residents seemed. I regret now that I wasn't able to be of more help to them, but I didn't understand the depth and complexity
of the problem. It went far beyond the grueling hours they were expected to work.

Hopefully, today's students and residents who are facing what you did won't simply have SSRIs shoved at them with the idea that it's nothing some antidepressants can't fix. It goes way deeper than that.