Hundreds of US Doctors Commit Suicide Every Year

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( — March 24, 2015) Los Angeles, CA  — It’s estimated that at least 400 US doctors kill themselves every year, amid various psychical struggles, mainly depression, anxiety, and addiction. However, there are still no warning bells calling for serious concern, author Gabrielle Glaser wrote in an article for The Daily Beast.

“The little-noticed, little-discussed trend has enormous implications,” she wrote adding that “since the average annual caseload of most family doctors is roughly 2,300 patients, 400 physician deaths could mean that a million Americans lose their doctors to suicide each year.”

There are various theories on why US doctors are anxious or depressed, while some theorizes why the public seems to ignore the fact that doctors are anxious or depressed. To be a doctor in the US, means a certain status in the community so there are no obvious reasons why they should be depressed. Stress? Well, we all live and work under more or less stressful conditions, however, doctors appear to have some bars set higher.

Among the theories of why doctors kill themselves are that they “face the pressures of ‘assembly-line medicine,’ merciless scheduling demands, fights with insurance companies, growing regulations, and an explosion in scientific literature in which their knowledge must remain current,” Glaser stated in her article.

We may believe that doctors are financially well fit, and most of them are, however, Glasier explained that their debt burdens often total hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they work in constant fear of malpractice suits. In addition, doctors are constantly surrounded by misery, suffering and death on a daily basis, and that affects them in spite of their training to set the emotions aside.

Doctor’s seem to have a problem in admitting that they can be the patient as well and seek help. Instead, they often treat themselves.

One study found that only 22 percent of medical students who screened positive for depression sought help from a therapist, and that only 42 percent of those who had suicide ideation received treatment.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), about 9 percent of the US population suffers from an alcohol- or substance-use disorder. Among doctors, that figure is between 10 to 15 percent.

There is a program, designed for doctors, called Physicians Health Program, or PHP. However, J. Wesley Boyd, a Harvard psychiatrist who left his post as assistant director of the Massachusetts PHP over a disagreement about practices there, says PHPs routinely intimidate their clients, Glaser wrote, quoting a co-authored article that Boyd wrote for the Journal of Addiction Medicine in 2012.

In that article, Boyd noted that many doctors who seek or are referred by colleagues for treatment are mandated to attend pre-selected rehabilitation facilities for 60 to 90 days. Afterward, they must agree to monitoring and drug testing, typically at their own cost. When doctors resist PHP recommendations, they risk losing their livelihood and their licenses.

In her article on high suicide figures among US doctors, published in the Daily Beast, Gabrielle Glaser acknowledged that medical boards have the duty to protect patients from doctors who may be compromised. She also wrote that critics say the lengthy stays in rehab, followed by mandated abstinence, monitoring, and random drug testing are so coercive, they dissuade many doctors from acknowledging they need help.

Gabrielle Glaser is the author, of ‘Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control’. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.