Physician suicide is an urgent problem with rates higher than suicide rates in the general public, with potential for extensive impact on health care systems. A "Five things to know about ..." practice article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) provides an overview of this serious issue.
Five things about physician suicide:
- As the only means of death more common in physicians than nonphysicians, suicide is an occupational hazard for physicians.
- Firearms, overdose and blunt force trauma are the most common means, with benzodiazepines, barbiturates and antipsychotics being the most commonly used drugs.
- Increased suicidal ideation begins as early as in medical school, with nearly 1 in 4 students surveyed reporting suicidal ideation within the last 12 months.
- Complaints to regulatory bodies are associated with higher rates of suicidal ideation.
- Suicidal physicians face unique barriers to care, including concerns regarding confidentiality, and fears of stigmatization and discrimination from peers, employers and licensing bodies.
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