why do doctors commit suicide?

7 Sep

I think I must have read a dozen articles of a similar message in the last couple months, each one scaring the bejesus out of me.  As this article explains, physicians are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than non-physicians, with female physicians three times as likely as male.  A staggering 9.4 percent of fourth-year medical students and interns reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous two weeks.

I don’t believe I have ever had suicidal ideation.  But, while I have been eager for the start of residency for quite some time (the first time I can prescribe a stool softener without the approval of an intern or senior resident–that’s going to feel good!), I can’t grasp how demanding it’s going to be.  I can only liken it to becoming a parent for the first time…but, for me at least, that was just one tiny human who, as challenging as she was, I’m not sure can overwhelm to the same degree as an entire floor during my first week of night float.

One particularly comforting excerpt, as I approach my hopeful employment:

It was over a dinner of Thai food that I finally opened up. One of my most accomplished colleagues in residency had complimented me on my clinical knowledge a couple of times during the meal. Sick of feeling like a charlatan, I told him about the trouble I was having with collecting clinical data and presenting it in an organized way on rounds. I confessed that I did not think I belonged in the program. He listened thoughtfully, and then uttered the three most beautiful words I had ever heard: “Dude, me too!”


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