Did you know cancer was the most common cause of death among residents? Suicide was the second-leading cause of resident death — and the most common cause of death among male residents. A 2015 review of studies estimated 22 to 32 percent of resident physicians in the U.S. suffer from depressive symptoms and multiple studies have shown that residency training places physicians at risk for mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
Monday, Sept. 17, is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, organized by the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), in collaboration with AAEM, ACEP, ACOEP, EMRA, RSA, RSO and SAEM to annually dedicate the 3rd Monday in September to remind physicians and other health care workers that suicide can be prevented and resources are available.
“Medicine is a calling, and the practice of medicine can be a very stressful career,” said Medical Association Executive Director Mark Jackson. “Alabama’s physicians care for thousands of patients each year, but they may not always stop to take care of themselves when they need it most. Physicians have a multitude of options designed just for them when they feel they are reaching a breaking point, and that’s where we can be a lifeline.”
While estimates of the actual number of physician suicides vary, literature has shown that the relative risk for suicide being 2.27 times greater among women and 1.41 times higher among men versus the general population. Each physician suicide is a devastating loss affecting everyone – family, friends, colleagues and up to 1 million patients per year. It is both a very personal loss and a public health crisis.
Help is available for physicians who feel they need assistance. The Alabama Physician Health Program is a confidential, effective, first-line resource for physicians and other medical professionals with depression and other mental health issues. Physicians may contact the APHP at (800) 239-6272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.