| BioEdge | Sunday, March 26, 2017
Australian doctors are calling for a campaign to fight mental illness in the medical profession, after it was revealed that four junior clinicians had taken their lives in the past six months.
Writing in The Guardian this week, doctor and author Ranjana Srivastava described the heart wrenching experience of attending the funeral of a colleague who took her own life. Srivastava called on doctors to make a concerted effort to support colleagues who were suffering:
“As a profession, we must do more than lament our dead colleagues. Dealing effectively with mental illness and halting suicide among doctors requires curiosity, compassion and practical support.”
In addition to four deaths across the country in the past half year, New South Wales Coroner Michael Barnes revealed that 20 doctors have committed suicide in his State alone in the past decade.AMA NSW president Brad Frankum said it was time the industry “faced facts” on suicides. Frankum told the Daily Telegraph that junior doctors were under extreme pressure, and that hospital culture fostered a competitive environment and placed young people under intense scrutiny with extremely long work hours.
A number of the eminences of Silicon Valley are besotted with immortality. Google, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are a just a few names amongst the many who want to do away with death, or at least add a few decades, or even a few hundred years, to their lifespans.
Even if this is achievable, is this desirable?
British sci-fi author and futurist Paul Graham Raven has written a blistering demolition of the transhumanist project. (Hat-tip to Wired.) It is basically a philosophy for selfish (and mostly white) rich guys, he suggests.
it turns out that technologies which extend, augment or otherwise improve human life are already here! You may have heard of some of them: clean water; urban sanitation; smokeless cooking facilities; free access to healthcare; a guaranteed minimum income; a good, free education. There are more – and you’d be surprised how many of them have been around in one form or another for decades, even centuries! But they’re unevenly distributed at the moment, so the first agenda item for all transhumanists should be looking for ways to get these technologies to everyone on the planet as soon as possible
But that is unlikely to happen. In their single-minded focus on maximising their own welfare, dedicated transhumanists are deaf to the needs of the society: “You look after yourself, I’ll look after me; what could be fairer than that?” Raven writes caustically. Come to think of it, this critique of personal autonomy could be applied to a number of other areas in bioethics.
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Experts alarmed by MD suicide rate in Australia