What is the prevalence of physician suicide?

Updated: Jun 11, 2017
  • Author: Louise B Andrew, MD, JD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Answer

It has been known for more than 150 years that physicians have an increased propensity to die by suicide. It was estimated in 1977 that on average the United States loses the equivalent of at least one small medical school or a large medical school class to suicide. [1]   Exact numbers are not known. Although it is impossible to estimate with accuracy because of inaccurate cause of death reporting and coding, the number most often used is approximately 3-400 physicians/year, or perhaps a doctor a day. Of all occupations and professions, the medical profession consistently hovers near the top of occupations with the highest risk of death by suicide.

Sadly, although physicians globally have a lower mortality risk from cancer and heart disease relative to the general population (presumably related to knowledge of self care and acess to early diagnosis), they have a significantly higher risk of dying from suicide, the end stage of an eminently treatable disease process. Perhaps even more alarming is that, after accidents, suicide is the most common cause of death among medical students.


Source Article: Physician Suicide: Overview

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