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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Risk considerations for suicidal physicians

Doug Brunk
Clinical Psychiatry News
Publish date: February 27, 2017

Here are two excerpts:

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 300-400 physicians take their own lives every year, the equivalent of two to three medical school classes. “That’s a doctor a day we lose to suicide,” said Dr. Myers, a professor of clinical psychiatry at State University of New York, Brooklyn, who specializes in physician health. Compared with the general population, the suicide rate ratio is 2.27 among female physicians and 1.41 among male physicians (Am J Psychiatry. 2004;161[12]:2295-2302), and an estimated 85%-90% of those who carry out a suicide have a psychiatric illness such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol use and substance use disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Other triggers common to physicians, Dr. Myers said, include other kinds of personality disorders, burnout, untreated anxiety disorders, substance/medication-induced depressive disorder (especially in clinicians who have been self-medicating), and posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Inadequate treatment can occur for physician patients because of transference and countertransference dynamics “that muddle the treatment dyad,” Dr. Myers added. “We must be mindful of the many issues that are going on when we treat our own.”

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