NEW YORK — With one completed suicide every day, US physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession. In addition, the number of physician suicides is more than twice that of the general population, new research shows.
A systematic literature review of physician suicide shows that the suicide rate among physicians is 28 to 40 per 100,000, more than double that in the general population.
Physicians who die by suicide often suffer from untreated or undertreated depression or other mental illnesses, a fact that underscores the need for early intervention, study investigator Deepika Tanwar, MD, Psychiatric Program, Harlem Hospital Center, New York City, told Medscape Medical News.
“It’s very surprising” that the suicide rate among physicians is higher than among those in the military, which is considered a very stressful occupation, Tanwar told Medscape Medical News.
The findings were presented here at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018 annual meeting.
Stigma, Access to Lethal Means
Using MEDLINE and PubMed, the investigators conducted a systematic literature review of physician suicide that included articles published in peer-reviewed journals during the past 10 years.
The review showed that the physician suicide rate was 28 to 40 per 100,000; in the general population, the overall rate was 12.3 per 100,000.
The results also showed that although female physicians attempt suicide far less often than women in the general population, the completion rate for female physicians exceeds that of the general population by 2.5 to 4 times and equals that of male physicians.
Experts are trying to understand why physician suicide rates are so high, said Tanwar. She pointed out that their review shows that some of the most common diagnoses were mood disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
One study showed that depression affects an estimated 12% of male physicians and up to 19.5% of female physicians, a prevalence that is on par with that of the general population.
Depression is more common in medical students and residents, with 15% to 30% screening positive for depressive symptoms.
The investigators note that mood disorders in the medical profession is not restricted to North America. Studies from Finland, Norway, Australia, Singapore, China, and elsewhere have shown an increase in the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicidality among medical students and practitioners alike.
Stigma, said Tanwar, is a major obstacle to seeking medical treatment. She pointed to a study in which 50% of 2106 female physicians who completed a Facebook questionnaire reported meeting criteria for a mental disorder but were reluctant to seek professional help because of the fear of stigma.
Reproduced From: Medscape Pediatric
Author : Pauline Anderson
Date: 7 MAY 2018