IT IS a sad, but little known fact, that on average, the U.S. loses the equivalent of an entire medical school each year (est 250-400 physicians) to suicide. That's about one physician lost every day to a diagnosable and treatable illness. Physicians are from 1.4 to 2.7 times more likely to complete suicide than are other members of our society. And this assumes that reporting of a physician's cause of death, usually performed by a fellow physician, is accurate.
What makes this fact so incomprehensible to non physicians, is that healthy physicians dedicate their lives to fighting disease and death. How then, could any physician contemplate ending his or her own life? One reason is the dire consequence physicians fear from seeking help, from their own regulatory boards, namely loss of licensure and therefore (potentially) of livelihood.
There are many possibilities to explain the unexpected prevalence of physician suicide, none of them simple, but there are even more unanswered questions. Until quite recently, this topic has not been openly discussed. However, with increasing awareness of the effects of depression and suicide in the general population and increasing concerns about this specially affected population, some research is emerging, and information exists.
This excellent article gives an overview of the problem.
Here is a very informative webinar by the AMA led by Dr. Mike Meyers, a psychiatrist expert in the phenomenon of physician suicide. Anyone can view, but sign in is required. The recording is one of three, available from AMA at this page.
See References and Links for additional information.