Dr M Kannan, 24, died by suicide in the early hours of Monday at the men’s hostel of Chennai’s Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital.

Dr M Kannan died by suicide on Monday at Government Stanley Hospital in Chennai Facebook
news Death Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 13:46

For many students and colleagues at both the Government Medical College in Thanjavur and Stanley Hospital in Chennai, the news has not yet sunk in. One of their favourite seniors and friends, Dr Kannan, is no more.

Dr Kannan, a 24-year-old postgraduate doctor in Chennai’s Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, died by suicide in the early hours of Monday. According to reports, he was on duty till around 1.30 am on Monday. A few hours later, he was found lying on the ground with multiple fractures outside his hostel. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

For those who knew Kannan, both at the hospital and in college, feelings of shock and grief are intermingled, as they remember the jovial, kind-hearted man.

“I was on duty in the ward around 12 noon on Monday when I got to know the news of Kannan’s suicide,” Ajith*, a friend and fellow doctor, recalls. “It was on our WhatsApp group and my first reaction was disbelief.”

Kannan, who hailed from a middle-class family in Udumalaipettai in Tiruppur district, joined the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Stanley Medical College as a Postgraduate resident on May 31. He had completed his internship in the Government Medical College in Thanjavur in 2019 and had come to Chennai to prepare for NEET-PG.

In an effort to help Kannan’s family, some friends are pushing for compensation for the family in the hopes that it will help console their grief. “Most of us will move on after a month or two, but for his family, the loss will be eternal,” Ajith says.

Helpful and kind

Kannan was a kind soul, a student who was universally loved and admired by his batchmates, juniors and teachers. Many held him in high regard, the sort of person who wouldn’t hold grudges or engage in rivalry with his peers, says Ajith, a 2015-batch MBBS student in Thanjavur Medical College.

He remembers the many embryology classes that Kannan would conduct for him and his hostelmates. “He used to spend his time teaching us embryology. For me, I had difficulty navigating the topic and Kannan helped me and my friends by taking classes in the hostel. I still can’t believe he is gone,” he says.

And even if he had a busy day at college or in the hospital, Kannan always seemed to have time for friends, says Nitish*, another student from Thanjavur Medical College who remembers how Kannan would help him figure out important questions for the tests and exams, even as he balanced his own work life.

‘Stress is not new’

It is an open secret that PG residents and doctors on the Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship (CRRIs) working in government hospitals are often stretched thin through long hours and busy schedules. “Managing a 36-hour shift or doing back-to-back admission duty is routine for us. Kannan was not someone who got stressed due to that,” Ajith says.

Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, where Kannan studied, is also known for its hectic environment, many say.

Soon after Kannan joined Stanley Hospital, he was quickly thrust into COVID-19 duty since elective cases were not being conducted and orthopaedic cases had decreased drastically. However, some recalled, that pressure didn’t appear to touch him. “I heard that Kannan navigated that without much of a problem,” Ajith explains.

An illustrious student

At Thanjavur Medical College, Kannan was one of the top performing students, according to Nitish, who adds that he had earned a gold medal during his course at the college.

“Thanjavur Medical College is rigorous and he took only a one-year break for NEET preparation. That says a lot about his academic mettle. And to get a seat in Stanley for PG is no easy thing. He would have gotten a high rank at the All-India level to have done this,” says Manoj*, a PG Resident in Stanley Medical College Hospital.

But for the batchmates who knew him at Thanjavur Medical College, many are still coming to terms with the death of their friend and classmate. Raji*, who knew Kannan at the college, remembers her classmate as being “jovial, focused and ambitious.”

“It is unbelievable that he is gone,” she says, her voice shaking slightly.

(*Names changed on request)

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional suppport to individuals and families.   

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those  undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.    

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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