AMA Offers Free Webinar Series on Physician Suicide

Yesterday in a post on her blog -- "The Singing Pen of Dr. Jen" -- Jennifer Middleton points readers to a free webinar series on physician suicide from the American Medical Association. Middleton writes, "I wish that I didn't have a reason to participate in this webinar, but a few years ago I lost a friend and physician colleague to suicide."

She was asked to participate in one of the AMA webinars because of an essay she wrote for Annals of Family Medicine, "Today I'm Grieving a Physician Suicide," in which she addresses her colleague directly:

Why didn’t you ask your physician colleagues for help? Why did you hide your depression from us? Did I, as your colleague and friend, fail you? These questions circle relentlessly through my mind. I need to understand, need somehow for this all to make sense.

According to a recent article in Medscape Reference on physician suicide, "on average, the United States loses as many as 400 physicians to suicide each year."

Sadly, although physicians globally have a lower mortality risk from cancer and heart disease relative to the general population (presumably related to self-care and early diagnosis), they have a significantly higher risk of dying from suicide, the end stage of an eminently treatable disease process. Perhaps even more alarming is that, after accidents, suicide is the most common cause of death among medical students.

Please also see information about a PBS documentary on the topic, Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide.