COMMENTARY

Resident Suicide: A Tragedy, and What Can Help?

Disclosures

September 19, 2018

In This Article

The Fear That Getting Help Could Ruin Their Future

Kevin Dietl had gone for counseling, said his father, but like many physicians and healthcare professionals, he was worried that if anyone found out, it could ruin his career. Kevin went to a therapist far away and paid cash so that no one would know about it, his father told me.

In my own experience, I've encountered physicians who felt that they needed psychological help. They, too, found therapists at least 2 hours away from home; they also paid cash, and they often used an alias when making the appointment. Sadly, with all of the strides we've made in de-stigmatizing mental health issues, physicians can still have it held against them professionally when they seek help for themselves.

Helping Physicians Deal With Depression and Burnout

Pamela Wible, MD, a family physician from Eugene, Oregon, and an activist against the conditions that lead to medical resident and physician suicide, describes her own experiences and her work in the film. Wible now runs a suicide prevention hotline and a retreat for physicians, residents, and medical students struggling with depression.

In the film, Wible highlights several key points that contribute to resident and physician suicide, including lack of sleep, too many working hours, and lack of communication with others who are feeling similar pressures.

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