Still, Dr. Wible said that she worries about the disaffected colleagues who reach out to her almost every day. “Just yesterday I got an e-mail from a physician in Oklahoma who told me they just lost three physicians to suicide in 1 month who were on probation with the medical board,” she said. “These are not defective physicians. These people need to be helped.”
Dr. Wible said that she favors holding periodic panel discussions on the topics of depression and physician suicide for medical students and physicians alike. “Let other physicians who’ve been depressed and suicidal sit in front of the room on the first week of medical school, or in a hospital once in a while, mandatory, where you listen to other well-respected physicians say, ‘yeah. I cried myself to sleep after I lost this patient,’ or ‘I had suicidal thoughts during a malpractice case.’ There are lots of reasons why physicians could be sad. They need to start talking about it publicly. Other medical students and physicians would then feel comfortable to raise their hands in the audience and say, ‘I felt the same way.’ ”
Suggested resources for help
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (www.afsp.org/).
24-hour crisis line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
In 2008 the AFSP released a documentary about the problem of physician depression and suicide titled “Struggling in Silence,” which aired on public television stations nationwide and is available on DVD for $24.99.
Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/centers/cppa/index.php)
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org).
Federation of State Physician Health Programs Inc. (www.fsphp.org).
Vanderbilt Center for Professional Health (www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/cph).
The Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-Being (http://www.mayo.edu/research/centers-programs/physician-well-being-program/overview).
ePhysicianHealth.com, a program of the Ontario Medical Association (http://php.oma.org/ePhysicianHealth.html)
The Academic Medicine Handbook: A Guide to Achievement and Fulfillment for Academic Faculty, New York: Springer, 2013 (http://www.springer.com/medicine/internal/book/978-1-4614-5692-6)
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