Two women from the New York University School of Medicine community — a fourth-year medical student and a psychiatry resident physician — died by suicide within five days of each other, drawing renewed attention to an unfortunate trend among medical professionals.
Andrea Liu, 26, was found dead in her dorm room last Tuesday, the NY Post reported. Liu was on track to graduate this year.
Another staffer died by suicide on Sunday, the medical school confirmed to Refinery29. "We were saddened to learn that one of our psychiatry residents died this weekend, apparently by suicide. The incident occurred offsite and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death," the administration said in a statement. "Counseling services are being offered to students, faculty, and staff. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and fellow colleagues."
The deaths come just four months after the suicide of Dr. Deelshad Joomun, an attending physician at Mount Sinai St. Luke's, another New York City Hospital.
Earlier this year, Refinery29 reported on a string of suicides at Mount Sinai. In the span of two years, three women — a medical student, a resident, and an attending physician — died by suicide at the hospital.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, physicians are at a higher risk than the general population for suicide. “Because of long hours, high patient volume, academic demands, work compression, and irrational systems that negatively impact both patients and providers, residency is very stressful," Dr. Eve Kellner, president of the Committee of Interns and Residents, a union that represents physicians, told Refinery29 in February. "Residents commonly suffer from sleep deprivation, traumatic stress, depression, and other mental health challenges that are extremely difficult to manage as a result of the absence of options."
When asked whether NYU believes medical students and physicians are more susceptible to suicide and suicidal behavior, a spokeswoman for the administration said, “Due to the sensitivity of this issue, we will not be commenting further.”
Dr. Pamela Wible, an outspoken advocate for suicide prevention and awareness believes schools and hospitals are not adequately addressing the system that is leading so many bright and promising people to die by suicide, but are instead focused on superficial remedies. "Yoga, meditation, and forced wellness modules won't stop these suicide clusters at NYU and Mount Sinai," Dr. Wible told Refinery29 in an interview. "The medical system must finally take responsibility for perpetuating the toxic working conditions that destabilize our doctors-in-training and lead to these suicides."
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
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