herald

Friday 11 July 2014

Doctors to get help over work stress fears

TWO doctors at a leading Dublin hospital have taken their own lives in recent months.

The suicides have sparked fears for the health of medics with a leading charity saying it is available to help.

Counselling services have been offered to staff at Tallaght hospital in the wake of the deaths of the two junior doctors -- said to be in their late 20s and early 30s.

The deaths have raised concerns about the high pressured and stressful work environments in the country's hospitals.

Both doctors, who were at Senior House Officer (SHO) grade, had been working in Tallaght Hospital for a number of months before they took their own lives.

Despite working in the caring profession, health workers are often the most reluctant to seek help in times of stress, according to chief executive of Pieta House, Joan Freeman.

"Certainly in hospitals, working in A&E, young doctors would be vulnerable to sleep deprivation for a start but also the high stress levels and seeing people very unwell and having to deal with that," she said.

"Because they are in the caring profession, they just don't go looking for help for themselves.

"I don't know whether they think they can help themselves, they are ashamed, or what," Mr Freeman added.

One of the two who took their own lives -- a female doctor in her late 20s -- had worked in the neurology department of the hospital.

She died last weekend after she was rushed to the hospital where she worked and was treated by colleagues in the emergency department.

The young doctor had taken sick leave from work at the time of her death and had been living near the hospital.

This followed the death of a male surgical SHO last July who had just finished his rotation at Tallaght Hospital and was one week into a new job at another hospital.

Tallaght Hospital was not available for comment at the time of going to print.

The news comes after a new study by the School of Psychology at University College Dublin for Headstrong -- the young people's mental health organisation -- revealed that almost half of college students have experienced suicidal feelings.

Of 8,000 third-level students aged 17 to 25, some 43pc have felt at some point that their life was not worth living.

hnews@herald.ie

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