Vanderbilt University is concerned after four of its medical school students have committed suicide in less than two years.
“Vanderbilt University is committed to a culture of caring in which the well-being of all community members — our extraordinary students, the faculty who teach them, and the staff who play an immeasurable role in the success of this remarkable university — is enhanced and supported,” Vanderbilt said in a statement. “We strive to foster a culture of openness through brave dialogue, honest self-reflection, and willingness to invest in this incredible university by investing first in the mental health and wholeness of every member of the Vanderbilt family.”
Specifically, four doctoral students in biomedical sciences have died by suicide.
According to one report, mental health resources are stretched thin due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken its toll on the mental health of all Americans, and particularly college students.
That report said that wait times for appointments at Vanderbilt University’s Counseling Center could be months long, and that the school has assigned a mental health counselor to specifically help the school’s 400 doctoral students in the biomedical science program.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted in a report last October that rates of anxiety and depression – both risk factors for suicides – have increased dramatically, particularly among young people.
The data showed that such instances were correlated to COVID-19 case numbers, which often correlate to increased isolation.
“The frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms experienced among U.S. adults increased after August 2020 and peaked during December 2020-January 2021. The frequency of symptoms subsequently decreased but in June 2021 remained elevated compared with estimates from the 2019 NHIS,” the report said. “The relative increases and decreases in frequency of reported symptoms of anxiety and depression at both the national and state levels mirrored the national weekly number of new COVID-19 cases during the same period.”
Vanderbilt University Medical School – a top destination for medical students worldwide – is in a unique position to decipher the mental health toll that the pandemic has taken on Americans of all ages, especially those enrolled at its university.
Vanderbilt did not return a comment request.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].