Yet Another Doctor Suicide

I read this today. This breaks my heart. This is the second suicide death I learned in the last 3 months in this city. Neither were junior doctors. My heart breaks when I read these phrases: “stresses of his chosen career” & “he failed to seek the support”. Although the words of this obituary may have been respectfully chosen by a colleague or family, I wonder if the emphasis on his chosen career and his failure to get support is truly right. Perhaps it is our failure to provide him a career worth living for? Perhaps it is our failure to support him? Is it really his failure?


2 thoughts on “Yet Another Doctor Suicide

  1. “Failed to seek help” might very well have been a projection of anger on the part of surviving family members. Death by suicide is harder on the survivors than the dead, and even the man’s closest family members might not know the whole story.

    I’d be curious to know if the rate of suicide among doctors is static or increasing (media awareness is certainly increasing). If it’s increasing, that means something in our respective health systems is very, very wrong. If it’s static, and indeed higher than the rate of suicide in the general population, it means the practice of medicine carries an unique and intrinsic risk to one’s mental health, akin to shellshock in soldiers. I’m not sure which of those two conclusions is worse.

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  2. I’m a North American surgical intern. I recently finalized arrangements to transfer out of surgery, in order to save myself.

    I have had a taste of those perfect surgical moments where the team and the operation are flowing perfectly and hours can pass by. Those are the moments that you strive for; moments you direct your every effort to create and savour. They, in theory, make all the hours / work / research / call / burnout / missed experiences worth it.

    However, with the unrelenting stresses currently placed on physicians (trainees and consultants both), I increasingly seemed faced with a future of putting my family second, putting my own health third, of coming to hate the work itself, of becoming someone I don’t like. Upon contemplating this I realized “Well I could always consider suicide if it gets that bad”. At that moment I knew I had to leave.

    Under different arrangements I may have been able to thrive as a surgeon. Now I will be finishing training in a related non-surgical field, probably happy enough but not fulfilled. I wonder about how this culture will change – how many more physician suicides it might take. Although deep down I may never move on from surgery, I will be happy to be alive and healthy.

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