The Case of Tammy Dohada: When a Fellow Resident and Close Friend Commits Suicide
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The suicide of a fellow medical student or resident is not uncommon during medical training. Exposure to this event can lead to the development of a host of pathological conditions in the peers of the suicide victim, among which posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorders, and complicated grief. Survivors of suicide victims are at higher risk for suicide. Physicians in training may experience shame about pursuing psychiatric treatment. Shame may be related to the expectation that inherent to the medical profession is the capability to withstand exposure to traumatic events without psychological and emotional consequences which may impact functioning and to the expectation that physicians should be psychologically more resilient than patients and therefore should invest time in their patients’ care before their own. Adequate treatment of the psychological sequelae related to exposure to traumatic events during medical training not only will preempt the long-standing impact of such exposure on the personal and professional functioning of a physician, but will strengthen the physician’s care-taking skills essential to the profession of medicine.
KeywordsAdjustment disorder Posttraumatic stress disorder Complicated grief Suicide Imitative suicide Shame Psychodynamic psychotherapy
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