Physician Suicide Tops All Professions

by Doree Ann Espiritu, M.D.

More than one doctor every day. This is the rate of physician suicides in the U.S., according to research results conducted and written about in The Atlantic magazine by Alexandra Sowa McPartland, a recently graduated resident.

According to her research, some of our youngest and most promising physicians are taking their lives at a rate more than double the national average. According to McPartland, suicide accounts for 26 percent of the deaths among physicians between the ages of 25 and 39. Most recently, The Advisory Board Company referred to this report to help bring awareness to this horrible trend.

As a mental health professional and M.D., I am deeply troubled by this issue among my colleagues. Even more disturbing is their seeming unwillingness to seek help for a multitude of reasons, including a fear of judgment by peers or simply, a lack of time. Fueled by physical and emotional exhaustion among other factors, physicians are ripe for depression and, unfortunately, thoughts of suicide.

Just because you are a physician, and held in high esteem for your knowledge and ability to heal others, it does not mean you are invincible. You are human and as such, experience the full spectrum of emotions, potentially more keenly than those in other professions.

If you feel you are depressed or have suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately. Your gift is to help heal others, but not at the expense of your own happiness or your life.

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