Most physicians live each day in a high-stress, goal-oriented, deadline-driven, atmosphere. They live with the realization that one mistake or overlooked detail could cost a patient’s life. Sadly, they also know that admission of weakness of any kind may cause them to be ostracized by peers, patients, and employers.
All of that leads to a deadly, but not unexpected result: For decades doctors have been killing themselves at a far higher rate than other people.
Female doctors kill themselves at a rate 130 percent higher than other adult women, while the rate among male physicians is 40 percent higher than men in general.
This issue was brought to the fore late last year with the suicide of well-known pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb. Press accounts at the time of his death portrayed him as a man tormented by a sense of failure because he could not save every sick child.
We want our doctors to show respect, understanding, and compassion toward us, and rightly so. Let’s make sure that we, especially those of us who work closely with physicians every day, return the favor.
Medical community begins to address physician suicide from the Boston Globe
Female Physicians Face Higher Suicide Risk from Women's E-News
Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention