A Helping Hand to Physicians: Groups Launch Anti-Suicide Effort

With suicide rates among physicians at a high level, and concern rising among medical students, a trio of groups has made resources available to physicians who might be dealing with stress or burnout.

The medical world wants to open up a dialogue oa major problem affecting physicians.

That problem is suicide, often brought on by stress, fatigue, and depression, and it’s one that’s growing to epidemic proportions: According to an estimate from Medscape, 300 to 400 physicians take their own life each year, and medical students also struggle with this problem.

“Of all occupations and professions, the medical profession consistently hovers near the top of occupations with the highest risk of death by suicide,” author Louise B. Andrew, M.D., J.D., wrote in the publication.

The issue is starting to receive notice in the medical space. Pamela Wible M.D., another writer for the publication, shared a story about the same topic that, according to The Daily Beast, drew upward of 100,000 views and 800-plus comments. Wible, who also published a book about suicide, started a petition calling on organizations like the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to take action on the issue.

This week, ACGME stepped forward, teaming with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and Mayo Clinic in launching a new anti-suicide initiative targeted at physicians and medical trainees.

The groups launched a resource page to encourage well-being and support for those struggling within their given profession.

“We want to be part of a national dialogue that addresses physician well-being and leads to transformational change—to a more humane learning environment for all medical education and a healthier culture for all physicians,” ACGME CEO Thomas J. Nasca, M.D., said in a news release.

Mayo Clinic joined with AFSP to create a video that encourages medical officials to be alert to signs of depression and stress.

AFSP Chief Medical Officer Christine Moutier, M.D., emphasized that it’s important for doctors and medical students to be aware of their mental state for the broader good.

“Taking care of your mental health is the strong and smart thing to do,” Moutier said. “Consider it a best practice for physicians and medical trainees. Addressing our own risk in the physician community is an important step toward addressing suicide at the public health level. If physicians begin modeling proactive mental health behaviors, it will send a strong message to all of society.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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