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Iran News: Increase in Suicide Rates Among Medical Professionals Indicates A Growing Crisis

Recent reports have highlighted a disturbing rise in suicide rates among medical professionals in Iran, with an alarming fivefold increase in these tragic incidents. This year alone, three suicides resulting in death have been reported among healthcare workers, underscoring the severity of the crisis.

According to a report by the state-run Khabar Online, the “chain of suicides” among medical staff in 2023 began with the death of Parastou Bakhshi, a young cardiologist at Delfan Hospital. This incident was followed by two more suicides in May: Dr. Samira Al-Saeedi, an associate professor of rheumatology and member of the Rheumatology Research Center at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and Dr. Zahra Maleki, a physician on a medical mission in Jask, both took their lives within a week of each other.

The phenomenon of “physician suicides” has been publicly recognized since 2018, often reported under the guise of “sudden death” by various doctors. Since 2019, the medical community has endured two distinct waves of suicides. The second wave, occurring over the past three years, saw 13 resident doctors taking their own lives, with a particularly intense period in December 2022 when three residents committed suicide within a single week.

Dr. Hadi Yazdani, a medical professional with a doctorate in medicine, compared the rising suicides in the medical community to a “domino effect.” He pointed to feelings of helplessness and absolute despair as significant factors, noting that “the death of Dr. Parastou Bakhshi marks the beginning of a chain and could be the source of subsequent suicides.”

Dr. Yazdani emphasized systemic issues within the Ministry of Health and existing regulations, such as the mandatory service law, the distribution of medical staff, special cases commission, and the interference of local forces in the work of medical mission physicians as common motivations for suicides among healthcare workers. He also highlighted the overwhelming workload, numerous responsibilities, insufficient salaries, and lack of job security as fundamental problems faced by medical staff.

Khabar Online’s report also referenced data from the Migration Observatory, revealing that by the summer of 2022, 74% of doctors and nurses expressed a desire to emigrate from Iran, with over 4,000 doctors having left the country in the past year alone.

Previously, the spokesperson for Iran’s Medical System Organization acknowledged the increase in suicides within the medical community. They attributed the high workload and inadequate compensation as key reasons for the suicides among resident doctors, describing these incidents as “multi-faceted and complex.”

In a conversation with the state-run ILNA news agency, Reza Laripour explained that a resident doctor today cannot afford to rent a house and cover daily living expenses in Tehran, leading to feelings of hopelessness about their future career. This despair, coupled with the destruction of their pre-medical school expectations, drives them into a cycle of stress, anxiety, depression, and ultimately, suicide.

In December of last year, the Iranian Association of Psychiatrists wrote a letter to Ebrahim Raisi, then president of the regime, highlighting the high suicide rates among resident doctors and warning that the continuation of this trend could lead to the “collapse of the country’s health system.”

By the time of this reporting, the post by Khabar Online had been taken down, displaying the message: “This page does not exist! You probably mistyped the address. You will be automatically redirected to the home page. For quicker access, click on Home or Search.”