International Best Researcher Award, Psychiatry

Right from my undergraduate days in medical school, Psychiatry as a subject intrigued me. I went on to do my post graduation (MD Psychiatry) from Seth GSMC & KEM Hospital, Mumbai. As of now I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the same institute. Whilst practising, as I came across patients who had attempted suicide or suicide survivors, I grew increasingly uncomfortable as a number of questions plagued me. I had many unanswered questions, well into practice. Questions like “how do I predict a suicidal attempt?”. “ How can I prevent the attempt to begin with?”, “‘what makes different people respond to a similar antecedent event differently?’. The term Non Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) attempt meant that some individuals attempted self harm without the intention to die. I was disturbed by this terminology. How could I say for sure that they did not have the intent to die? When there were multiple NSSI events, such individuals were called ‘attention seekers’ or ‘those who cry wolf’ or ‘drama queens’ in common parlance which were highly stigmatising labels. I decided to go to the depths of suicide as a phenomenon to relinquish those who were called names for eg. ‘the attention seekers, if I could at all. I discussed this with my mentor and guide and Head of the Department, Dr. Shubhangi Parkar. We knew that we had look for the answers beyond the social and psychological etiological factors. So, to find our answers we needed to look at the neurobiological underpinnings that could tell us about ‘what differentiated, if there was a difference at all between a person attempting NSSI from that of a normal person versus who attempted suicide with the intention to die’. One of the ways for getting to know the neurobiological footprints was to do a F-18 Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) Positron Emission Tomography Brain Scan, because other modalities of imaging had already been utilised by other researchers. Finally we could rest easy when we completed our research titled- ‘Suicidal Behaviour- What’s The Brain Upto?’