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Researchers up close

‘Research taught me to stay organised throughout the day and to make use of every minute,’ says Vice-Dean of RSU Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare Toms Pulmanis. Toms dedicates his evenings, weekends and vacations to research as workdays are usually taken up by administrative duties and working with students.

Toms has been interested in medicine since his school days, but has always been more focused on public health rather than on individual patients, asking questions such as: What are the most current challenges? Which groups are most at risk? What is the best way to help these groups? How can we gradually improve public healthcare? Toms will address the issue of suicide at the RSU International Research Conference which he considers this to be a significant event on both a local and a European level. Toms has focused on this topic since his undergraduate studies when he was surprised to learn that Latvia was among the countries with the highest suicide rates in the European Union. His interest in mental health and suicidology grew after collaborating with RSU professor and psychiatrist Māris Taube.


Why am I involved in research?

We carry out research in order to change and improve things, but before we get to that we have to carry out research in order to assess the current situation. As soon as we have a clear picture we can decide on what steps to take next. In my mind research should indirectly change a situation and improve quality of life. I have analysed risk factors of suicidal behaviour in my bachelors’, masters’ and doctoral theses. Currently my focus is on suicide among youth, and on assessing risk groups. The results I have obtained revealed that the causes of suicidal behaviour and risk factors can vary greatly, and appear in different combinations. Negative causes are often linked to family or peers in the case of adolescents, but there is also a variety of individual factors. 

As the workload is very heavy I regularly devote evenings, weekends and even vacations to research. I am convinced that the only way forward is to take action. The more you feel sorry for yourself, the less you achieve in life. We have to learn to stay organised and make use of every minute.

Why will I attend the RSU International Research Conference?

The conference provides a great opportunity to familiarise other participants with our discoveries, and I will be presenting my subject on the risk factors for suicidal behaviour in adolescents. The conference is an ideal platform for forming new ideas and finding common ground for further research projects by communicating with colleagues. It also fosters the development of various innovations in the field of public health, as well as in other disciplines.  

Why should others attend the conference?

Among other reasons, I would like to highlight the significance of informal communication and contact. Despite modern digital communication face-to-face communication, with its unique character, opportunities and even charm, still remains relevant.