Jenna again - so true - for too long not enough emphasis has been given to our family and personal lives - this is archaic thinking back to the days when most docs were men who had traditional marriages.
I have a question as well. Do more physicans attempt suicide or are they more likely to complete suicide ??
Erin - not sure - what we do know is that too often suicide attempts by doctors are lethal because of the research suicidal docs do to make sure they die. This is frightening but I have heard it over and over again in my office. "I don't want to blow it - I've seen too many botched attempts"
Right on Med Momma! Let's hear it for supportive spouses and partners!!
It's possible that the higher suicide rate among doctors could be a result of their higher completion to attempt ratio, which likely stems from a greater knowledge of the lethality of drugs and easier access to other means of suicide than the general population.
Amy - yes, but the fallout is horrendous. So many people are affected - family, medical colleagues, patients, friends, teachers, students, treating professionals and more. Yes, people do move on but it stays in the back of their minds - we all struggle with guilt and powerlessness.
LA - so sad to hear this. Not surprised though. Why can't we be more supportive of each other, whatever the cause. Are we not our brother's and sisters' keepers?
Stigma is enemy number one! This cuts across all specialties and can be even worse in psychiatrists. There is much internalized stigma in psychiatrists, like we're supposed to be immune. But as we all know, some oncologists get cancer or cardiologists have MIs
Yes, not to get lost in all of this. Remember that 85-90% of all people who die by suicide have an underlying psychiatric illness. This includes us - especially depression, substance use disorders, severe anxieity disordesr and unrelenting burnout!
Advice to medical students - take care of yourself, make use of resources on campus, meditate, exercise, do yoga, keep non medical friends, fight for balance in your life, watch your alcohol intake and by all means go to campus counselor if you're not feeling well. There is no shame in that.
Great question Christine.
Because of shame and stigma, many docs do self-medicate. I get calls like this and they ask me to take over their care which is great. However, many docs have trouble following doctors' orders and they fiddle with their meds. This can be dangerous leading to relapse and recurrence of symptoms.
Ed - yes - terrible tragedy - what about means restriction? Guns, meds that kill, bridge barriers, etc?
Re Atlantic article, yes, stigma is huge. However, some docs also report that they don't have time to go to their psychiatrist or therapist because of long working days. So we need services in the evenings and weekends - or give our trainees time off to take care of themselves!!
Amy - so sorry - competition is another risk factor in our training environments. I wonder if we should eliminate the awards that we give every year and replace them with an award for the doctor who lives a balanced life or has the happiest family? Not kidding here.
Yes to psychological autopsies. So hard unfortunately to get people to talk and be honest as to predisposing factors and issues. Suicide notes are not always helpful
Abigail. yes to the perfect "horror" storm! There are usually many confluent factors coming at once.
Robert Miday - yes - we are human and not everyone has thick skin - that's a given - without compromising training and learning, we do need to be aware that sometimes teaching methods can be very hurtful and dangerous, in vulnerable individuals.
I spoke with Dr. Myers before the chat and he said if you are worried about a colleagues mental health--by all means, do something. It is not acceptable to turn the other cheek or leave it to someone else. Try to find out if others are worried or have noticed anything amiss. If so, compile a composite of concerns without disclosing anyone’s identity. Also--approach your colleague on a one-on-one. Find a private place to meet.