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Thursday, February 8, 2018

What I’ve learned from my tally of 757 doctor suicides

Pamela Wible
The Washington Post
Originally published January 13, 2018

Here are two excerpts:

Physician suicide is a public health crisis. One million Americans lose their doctors to suicide each year.

Many doctors have lost a colleague to suicide. Some have lost up to eight during their career — with no opportunity to grieve.

We lose way more men than women. For every female physician on my suicide registry, there are seven men. Suicide methods vary by region and gender. Women prefer to overdose and men choose firearms. Gunshot wounds prevail out West. Jumping is popular in New York City. In India, doctors have been found hanging from ceiling fans.


Patient deaths hurt doctors. A lot. Even when there’s no medical error, doctors may never forgive themselves for losing a patient. Suicide is the ultimate ­self-punishment. In several cases, the death of a patient seemed to be the key factor in pushing them over the edge.

Malpractice suits can be devastating. Humans make mistakes. Yet when doctors make mistakes, they’re publicly shamed in court, on TV and in newspapers (that live online forever). Many continue to suffer the agony of harming someone else — unintentionally — for the rest of our lives.

Academic distress kills medical students’ dreams. Failing medical-board exams and not getting a post-medical-school assignment in a specialty of choice has led to suicides. Doctors can be shattered if they fail to gain a residency: Before his suicide, Robert Chu, unmatched to residency, wrote a letter to medical officials and government leaders calling out a system that he said ruined his career.

The information is here.