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Photo of Suicide, a book by Simon Critchley. Photo credit: Thought Catalog

Every 18 days, a French medical intern commits suicide

Since January 1 this year in France, 5 interns have ended their lives. In order to raise awareness, L'InterSyndicale Nationale des Internes (ISNI) is launching its #ProtegeTonInterne campaign.

Published: April 21, 2021, 5:47 am

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    In its Mental Health survey published in 2017, the ISNI warned about the suicidal risk of medical interns, three times higher than the general population.

    At least 3,8 percent or 738 young doctors have admitted to having made a suicide attempt. Sadly, the causes are known and preventable. Although professional exhaustion is often cited as a cause because a medical intern works an average of 58 hours per week, more than 70 hours in surgery and often performs two to three 24-hour shifts per week, the real problem is a cultural one.

    Interns are facing harassment, violence and omerta: every week ISNI supports interns who are victims of violence and harassment, moral or sexual. These acts are protected by an omerta maintained by the cumulative powers of the hospital and university hierarchy, which has total control over the professional future of young doctors. City changes are almost impossible. The victims are therefore locked up for several years with their attackers without the possibility of recourse and with the fear of reprisals.

    The rise in such attacks are in part due to the Covid-19 crisis and the current third wave are putting young doctors but also patients a little more at risk. But the real reason is the pressure from international institutions – including the WHO – on European countries to make health care available to illegal immigants.

    French media outlet Mediapart highlighted this system in its article of April 02. Faced with the terrible observation, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, has remained silent and indifferent to the distress calls from interns, allowing tragedies to multiply.

    The consequences of this catastrophic and lasting situation are clear: 77 percent of young doctors continue to flee from public hospitals.

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