Page 9 - RU RWJ Medicine Magazine • Winter 2021
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What to Look for/Warning Signs
People who are thinking of suicide often exhibit a number of symptoms—
some subtle, some more overt— that they are at risk. Those signs include:
n Loss of interest in usual activities
n Social isolation – less interest in maintaining social connections, even virtually
n Change in appetite, whether lack of eating, or eating more, that often results in weight change
n Change in sleeping patterns, from disrupted sleep and insomnia, or napping more throughout the day
n Low energy–taking more time to do things than they normally would
n Extreme mood swings
n Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
virtual hangouts for medical students, with virtual game nights hosted each weekday.
Each of these programs will help address issues of depression, anxiety, and loss of socialization among the medical school community.
“Our goal is not only anticipating that next stage [of the disaster cycle], but also moving from tertiary care—watching it happen and then reacting—to prevention, doing it before anybody begins to have symptoms,” says Dr. Tobia.
Seeing the Community Impact
Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care also has developed mental health support services specifically for people who are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Rehan Aziz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology, has seen that struggle among his own patients.
“Early on, a lot of my patients were resilient and coping fairly well, and although things were changing, during the start of the height of the pandemic, they were understanding how and why changes were happening and following recommended guidelines,” recalls Dr. Aziz. “But now that this pandemic has gone on so long, people are feeling the
Robert Wood Johnson | MEDICINE 7
n Feeling hopeless or “trapped” n Increased use of drugs and/or
n Making a plan or researching ways to die
n Expressing thoughts of suicide. This can be as simple as “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up again,” or “If I died right now, it wouldn’t upset me a lot,” or more active, “I’m thinking of ending my life.”
“If someone close to you or someone at work points out something is wrong, the reflexive action is to reject that and become defensive. But you shouldn’t brush it off in general, especially during this extraordinary time,” advises Anthony Tobia, MD, professor and interim chair, Department of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. M

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