The future of suicide and depression prevention

depressions

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Wiktoria Izdebska, a 3rd year medical student of Medical University of Białystok, Poland. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


I live in Poland, a country in which the youngest child who committed suicide was 7 years old. She jumped out of the window. In 2016 9861 self-destructive events took place and 55% of them finalised with death. It is a land in which in 2017 more people died as a result of suicide than car accident. I personally know one person who died in a car accident and four people who decided to take their lives. Last piece of news about suicide in my local newspaper was from two months ago. The numbers are, as always, cruel.

Poland is a beautiful country yet haunted by a stigma of „only freaks go to a therapist” and „will your patients still trust you if they find out you have depression?”. Nobody speaks like that about sinusitis or otitis, yet mental illnesses are becoming as common as common flu. And just as otitis, when not cured, can lead to disability or worse.

“An ill doctor is a bad doctor”, a Polish saying says. Also mentally ill, should it follows. Therefore medical education workers should be the first ones to bring up the subject of suicide and depression prevention with students in order to protect them from terrible consequences. The students as well as practitioners should be sensitized to first symptoms of depression and burnout to break the stigma and save our patients.

In order to succeed we should keep advocating for better prevention through social campaigns and changes in medical curriculum. in those action IFMSA can be a perfect medium.

Numerous studies show that most people who commit suicide speak about their struggles before the „last day”. That is why we should become more sensitive to what we hear from our patients, friends, parents. On the other hand, phrases such as „dead inside” or „omg I’m dying” have became overused in spoken language and social media. Only being mindful about what we say or type can let the ones in need be heard.

Not all is lost though. A lot good has been done in my beautiful city recently. This year Medical University of Bialystok has offered free meetings with a psychotherapist for all students. Last year our Clinical Children Hospital opened Paediatric Psychiatry Ward. Those are indeed commendable actions, now we have to make a use of it and encourage those in need to use given opportunities.

Poland is a beautiful country because here all medical professionals since their first day of training are obliged to serve people in need. In other words: today we are responsible for our future patients.

It is now 2019, national statistical survey on suicide has not yet been done in Poland. That means it is still  not too late to make a change this year. It is not too late to sensitise ourselves and encourage others to approach mental health services.

About the author

Wiktoria Izdebska, a 3rd year medical student of Medical University of Białystok, a member of IFMSA-Poland since first year of her studies, currently holding a position of NOME Assistant and Head Editor of local Student Magazine. Hobbies: jazz and travelling. In her spare time she sails and writes. Hopefully a paediatric surgeon and definitely willing to live a life in service to other people, especially children. Advocate of Social Accountability in Medical Education and creative thinking-provocateur.

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Comments

  1. (for those who might need a drink of hope in 2days dark world)-in todays society of 1 world concienceness,where we have the capability to hear and see it all-there is A LOT of wrong we naturaly get tuned into! But let me tell you something-with our new capabilities- there is a lot of good going on! a lot of good! i mean miracles! so many that we wouldnt be able to catalog them all,and thats just in 1 days time-the homeless person who got offered a job-the lady whos attackers were run off by brave citizens-the child in the orphanage who is going to get Christmas this yr. i live in a ruff neighborhood in north austin tx.and yes there is violence and crime-but there is also a child praying,a person caring,some1 is reading there bible,some1 stayed sober 2day,went to work,payed there bills,went to church-there is a lot of good going on around you! Like they used to tell us in prison,take your eyes off the barbed wire fences and gaurd towers,and look beyond the fence.

  2. Evelyn M. says:

    A thought-provoking article, equally realistic, straight-forward and optimistic. Thank you Wiktoria.
    Greeting from Greece!

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