A Minnesota physician’s suicide inspires a foundation focused on ‘Dr. Mom’


Radhika Lal Snider built a family no matter where she lived. Even though her Indian relatives were far away, Radhika Lal Snyder made a home wherever it was she settled. She also found a close-knit community of friends and colleagues to help her make it work.

Radhika and Seth Snyder, Radhika’s husband, left California to return to Minnesota after she was accepted at the University of Minnesota Medical School. They had met in college at Saint John’s University and College of Saint Benedict. Radhika continued to build her family, even though she was busy with medical school, residency, and finally joining a Plymouth family medicine practice.

Seth Snyder stated that span style=”font weight: 400 Radhika really valued connection, friendship and relationships.” She was constantly creating and maintaining these networks. Her sisters love to call her “tribe across the globe,” which is made up of many villages.

Radhika’s family was devastated to hear that Radhika committed suicide in 2021. This happened just 10 weeks after she had given birth to her second child, and six months into Radhika’s medical career. Friends and family continue to grieve, but they want to ensure that no one else suffers the same. They have created the Dr. The Mom Foundation is dedicated to supporting mothers with mental health issues.

Med school mom

Radhika gave birth to the first child she had just weeks after the official white coat ceremony. Although it was a difficult time to become a mother for the first time, Radhika accepted it with enthusiasm, according to her husband.

Photo by Seth Snyder
Radhika Lal Snyder

Radhika, a medical student at the university, can take up to six year to complete the four-year requirements. Radhika spent the fall 2012 with her newborn daughter and took a year off.

Although this baby was excitedly awaited, it was also planned. However, being a mother was difficult. Seth stated that the winter that lasted from the first week in May was “that winter.” It was difficult to have a baby after having moved from Minnesota to a warmer area.

Radhika was just a few months old when her daughter fell into severe postpartum Depression.

Help is available by calling 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, if you or someone you care about is having trouble.

Seth stated that there were some really low points. “There were some really low .”

Alexis Render was a college friend who remembered Radhika’s descent spiral.

She said that she hadn’t heard from her for a while. “We used to talk every day. I called and called and she didn’t return my calls. She sounded flat when I finally spoke to her. I asked her if she could hand me the phone to Seth. I said, “I’ll be there in 20 minutes.” I’m bringing dinner.'”

Radhika initially resisted seeking help. However, her family encouraged Radhika to visit a therapist and to take antidepressants. You could immediately see a difference. Render stated that once the chemical had started to balance things out, she snapped back into Radhika the friend we are accustomed to.”

A new baby and a job

Radhika enrolled in medical school after her maternity leave ended. She then went on to residency at Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC, and Whittier Clinic in Minneapolis. She also added Dr. Kiran Sidhu to her circle of friends during that difficult time.

Radhika’s commitment and calm demeanour were admirable to Sidhu, a single mother. She said, “It was admirable.” She was organized all the time. “I was amazed that anyone, including her, is able to have a child through residency.

Nicole Klein, Charlie and Violet
Radhika with her youngest child

Despite the challenges, Radhika was able to keep things under control. So much so, that she and Seth started talking about having another child.

span style=”font weight: 400 She was in her final year of residency and had her job interview in hand,” Seth stated. “We had a contract to her first full-time post-residency job.”

The world started to crumble in 2020. Seth said, “The end to residency was insane.” “The beginning of COVID was in the last spring and summer. She was doing rotations at HCMC’s Level-1 trauma center. Her final residency was extremely stressful. Nobody knew what was happening, what was unsafe, and what was safe span>

Radhika, who was just finishing her residency in 2020, became pregnant with their second child. Radhika had planned to visit India with her family, and she began her new job. But the pandemic forced her to stop. Radhika, a caretaker by nature and a strong advocate for women’s rights, didn’t always openly share the hardships she faced, Seth stated. “I will never understand how concerned she was.”

Render was aware that Radhika’s residency, even though she thought Radhika was the “perfect person” for Radhika’s job, was a constant source of stress. Render stated, “That clinic has high-needs populations.” Radhika used to stop by Radhika’s house after a hard day. Radhika would tell me stories about the sick and lonely people she had met that day. Before she left for home, she was feeling depressed.

Brain attack

Friends and family were concerned that Radhika’s depression would return after her son was born in spring 2021. Everything seemed to be going according to the outside.

Render’s June wedding was in that year. Render’s friend behaved like herself at the event, even though she was a bit stressed about having a baby. Render stated, “It wasn’t like last time,” but she acknowledged Radhika seemed tired and concerned about breastfeeding.

Radhika began acting differently a few weeks later. It happened so fast it was scary. Seth stated that it felt like depression. This was a case of confusion. This is the best way to describe it.

Seth later learned that Radhika’s death was likely due to psychosis. This condition occurs in approximately 1 – 2 of 1,000span styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>.

Radhika’s illness took hold so fast that even her husband was unable to respond. She committed suicide on July 4, 2021.

Help is available by calling 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, if you or someone you care about is having trouble.

span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” Looking back now, I could see that there had been signs. But they weren’t any different from the usual sleep deprivation or exhaustion associated with new parenthood,” Seth stated. There were only a few things that seemed strange in her last two weeks. It was only in the last three to four days that things became strange. Then she disappeared .”

Render was shocked to hear about Radhika’s passing. She said, “I received a text message from Seth’s mother.” “It was good that my husband was there. He was there, so I just blinked and curled up next to him in a ball.

Radhika’s death occurred while Seth was on parental leave. He said, “I survived because my parents, my neighbors, and her friends took care of everything.”

Radhika was loved by Render’s kids, so she had to explain what happened to Radhika to them. She said that Radhika’s passing helped her understand the situation.

Render stated that she had suffered a brain attack. It’s almost like a heart attack. If she was seen right away, maybe someone could have helped her. She died .”

Hearts broken, heads down

Radhika was pushed over the edge by the stresses of motherhood and a demanding medical career. No one will ever find out. People who knew her well say she was a caring, high-achieving, and connected individual perfectly suited to her job. People who witnessed her as a working mom believed that she could manage both.

span style=”font weight: 400 She believed that if she did the things she loved, she would be a better mother,” Radhika’s sister Tanya Lal stated.

Sidhu, who was in the same “terrible” period of residency as Radhika, feels that she is responsible for the dehumanizing approach her program takes to its residents.

She said that while family medicine is meant to care holistically for the well-being and health of patients, it is not the case with trainees.

Sidhu suffered from depression during residency. She was afraid of being seen by overworked colleagues “the weak link” and pushed through until she could no longer take it any more. Sidhu recalls that her supervisor said to her, “You’re not alone who’s struggling.”

Dr. Ryan Greiner, a physician mental health advocate and medical director for a large Twin Cities-based group practicing physicians, stated that the experiences of medical school or residency can be detrimental.

Greiner, a former member of the board of the physicians’ group Twin Cities Medical Societyspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. “This is a time when many people start families and live in two-career households. It’s a very challenging environment.

Greiner said that studies show that physicians are more likely to experience mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD after completing their residency and med school. “Then, they transition into clinical practices, which is another major stressor span>

Greiner said that Sidhu’s experience with her supervisor reducing her request for leave is not unusual. Mental health is often stigmatized in the physician community during residency. It is a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ environment. Individually, people struggle. Sometimes, they deal with substance use span>

Greiner believes the medical profession must make significant changes in the way that physicians are supported throughout their training and early career. Greiner also believes that there should be an open discussion about the high costs of medicine for mental health. He would like to see an end to the shame many doctors feel when they disclose their mental health problems.

Greiner stated that there needs to be more support from medical credentialing agencies to invest in the well-being of physicians at both the state and national levels. “State medical boards should contribute a portion to licensing fees for programs that support intervention-based therapy.”

A foundation that helps others

Seth, who had said that Radhika was still hiding at his Minneapolis parents’ house, received a call shortly after Radhika’s funeral.

Mike Butler was the caller. Gretchen Wenner Butler was the wife of Seth and a newly-minted doctor. She had also committed suicide earlier in the year. Seth had been told by a friend.

span style=”font weight: 400 He was kind enough to call. Seth replied, “I’m here in Twin Cities going through this same thing.”

Gretchen was the youngest child of four siblings, all of whom went on to become doctors. Seth began to get to know Gretchen’s family and learn more about Gretchen’s story. He was inspired to start a non-profit that would honor Radhika and Gretchen and create support systems for others who are going through mental health challenges.

Seth arranged meetings with Mike Butler, Gretchen’s siblings. They created Dr. The Dr. Mom Foundation is a non-profit that raises awareness about the mental health of doctor mothers, builds connections, and advocates for systemwide changes. Seth, who took a longer leave of work after Radhika’s passing, is now leading the establishment of the organization.

Gretchen’s older sister Rachel, and mother of four, Rachel Wenner said that her involvement in the Dr. Mom Foundation inspired her to dedicate herself to the mental health of her fellow doctors.

“I hope that I can share my experiences and help make improvements for doctors,” she stated. I also want to support struggling physician mothers. I would like to share my experiences and lend an ear.

Wenner stated that her sister seemed to have everything under control, but her job as a radiology technician was exhausting. “Gretchen had worked 36 of the 48 hours before her death,”

The Dr. While the Dr.

span style=”font weight: 400 I always try to think,” Wenner stated, “What would Gretchen like?” How can we honor her? What can we do to help others ?”

Tahireh Lal Tahireh’s sister said Radhika and her family hope that the Dr. The Mom Foundation’s reach will extend beyond the United States. She said, “I hope it becomes an important resource to doctors and caregivers around the world.” “Care for our caregivers are extremely important.”

The Dr. While the Dr.

span style=”font weight: 400 The ultimate hope is to influence the way that we do medical education that allows doctors to be healthy people.” He said that while he hopes to have an impact on how policies and practices in healthcare shift to give physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals time off when they are needed.

Every two years, physicians must go through a process of recertification. In many states, the licensing boards’ wording restricts doctors from seeking mental health treatment. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice modified the wording in its medical license forms to include mental health treatment last year thanks to advocacy from medical student groups. Snyder hopes his foundation will help other states to do the same.

Snyder stated that span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” We want to shift the conversation about healthcare to providers getting holistic care for themselves as models to their patients.” “Physicians shouldn’t feel like they need to pretend that they don’t have any problems.

Help is available by calling 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, if you or someone you care about is having trouble.

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