Physician and Medical Student Depression and Suicide Prevention

Educational resources to address mental health conditions and suicide among physicians and medical students

These short films give the medical community the tools to recognize depression or other mental health conditions in themselves and their colleagues, and encourage help-seeking behavior. Unfortunately, physicians are more than twice as likely as the general population to die by suicide.

This [program] explores the subject of physician depression and suicide in a sensitive and informative manner, and encourages help-seeking behavior among physicians. — Dr. David Satcher, Director, Satcher Health and Leadership Institute and former U.S. Surgeon General

Facts about physician depression and suicide

  • Each year in the U.S., roughly 300–400 physicians die by suicide.
  • In the U.S., suicide deaths are 250–400 percent higher among female physicians when compared to females in other professions.
  • In the general population, males complete suicide four times more often then females. However, female physicians have a rate equal to male physicians.
  • There is no evidence that work-related stressors are linked to elevated rates of suicide in physicians.
  • Medical students have rates of depression 15 to 30 percent higher than the general population. Depression is a major risk factor in physician suicide. Other factors include bipolar disorder and alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Women physicians have a higher rate of major depression than age-matched women with doctorate degrees.
  • Contributing to the higher suicide rate among physicians is their higher completion to attempt ratio, which may result from greater knowledge of lethality of drugs and easy access to means.
  • Women physicians have a higher rate of major depression than age-matched women with doctorate degrees.
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