Three young doctors jump to their deaths in NYC

3rdSuicide

This week I learned of a third physician who has jumped to her death in NYC. Her colleague writes:

Dear Pamela, 

A medical resident died at my apartment building (subsidized housing for hospital employees) yesterday. I must have obliviously walked under her dead body on the scaffolding on my way to work yesterday. I just had an urge to tell someone about it and thought I’d tell you.

There was a “global notification” email to our medical community about the “tragic loss” of a medicine house staff member. My supervising attending told me it was a suicide. My co-resident told me that she heard from the front door man that it was in our building. And then last night I just googled to try to find out more and found this article. The scaffolding has been there for a full year to restore the cement on the outside of the building. Plus there are ropes that go from the roof down to the ground, one of which hangs in front of one of my windows. It has always looked ominous to me and reminded me of a hang rope. There are bars on my windows. State law requires this if a child lives in the apartment. They don’t remove them if the next tenant (like me) doesn’t have a child, so I would expect they’re on all of the windows by now, since this building is decades old. She must have uninstalled the bars or gone to the roof. 

There was the death of a student while I was an undergraduate. I could see the building she fell from whenever I looked out the window from the yoga classes at the school gym and it always reminded me of that fall. The university chaplain told me that a friend had convinced her to walk back from the ledge and she lost her footing on the attempted return and fell to her death. That’s the most horrible suicide story I’ve ever heard. 

I want to be able to go home without being reminded of suicide. The program directors are going to meet with us, so maybe I’ll learn more about what happened then. I appreciate your offer to talk and I have your phone number in my phone. Thank you!

Anna

I published this letter with Anna’s approval. I commend Anna for her courage to break the silence on physician suicide and for her willingness to reach out for help. Survivors, colleagues, and families all need support after a suicide. 

I wrote about the first two doctors who jumped to their deaths in NYC here. Each year, more than one million Americans lose their doctors to suicide. We can prevent the senseless deaths of our compassionate and brilliant young doctors by breaking the silence on physician suicide. Please watch this 2-minute movie trailer and join me in bringing physician suicide out of the darkness and into the light.

 

We need your help make this documentary a reality.

Please click here to sponsor this film.

Save a life. Honor the memory of a doctor.

Help prevent the next suicide.

Thank you.

~ Pamela

Heart-Big

Pamela Wible, M.D., has dedicated her life to preventing medical student and physician suicide. She is the author of Physician Suicide Letters—Answered.

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28 comments on “Three young doctors jump to their deaths in NYC
  1. Victoria Codispoti,MD, DLFAPA says:

    I am a 63yo female physician. I am sickened by this. My son WAS a medical student in NYC, but was dismissed while suffering from a severe depression.
    He wasn’t helped, he wasn’t given a second chance. He was suicidal. I rescued him from NYC and he is doing better, but no thanks to his medical school. I am sickened. How can doctors NOT help their colleagues…how can we ignore those who need us? What kind of a doctor are THESE doctors, who ignore the signs of depression….or who treat medical students so so poorly…

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Excellent questions that deserve a full investigation. Please continue to share this article and demand that our student doctors be treated humanely in their medical education. Thank you for speaking up. Public outrage is mounting. Fear-based training and intimidation tactics should never be allowed in our “health care” institutions. Our young doctors require adequate sleep, food, and health care (just as they are told to recommend to their patients). I’d love to speak to you. Please feel free to contact me: http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/contact.php

    • DrLuv says:

      This is so sad. At my school, last year there were 2 suicides, once was a recent grad who was an internal med resident tin NYC. Another, was a 3 or 4th yr med student but I can’t remember. All I know is that a lot of medical schools show that they care but Im not sure they really do. We get constant emails about how are are doing, or how much pressure we feel. Then, we just a get a response saying that medical school is hard, that we just need to work harder and that there are advisors and counselors. Sad thing is, when you go talk to them, all they do is ask questions like: “are you taking time off to de-stress?, are you going out or talking to friends?”. It just sickens me because I feel like they don’t care. A lot of them are just there for because it is their job, its their 9-5 that pays their bills. Once in a while you run into some one that is not an advisor who really cares. They sit down, they give you hope, they just done ask these irrelevant questions. Ive been sad and depressed to some point as a 2 yr med student. Nonetheless, I have to thank my faith and my mom as well as my gf for keeping me motivated. To read things like this really breaks my heart. I truly hope we all can make a difference some time soon!

    • Victoria, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. is there a particular reason for high suicide in doctors? Is it the current medical crisis, the responsibility of being a doctor too much to handle, what is the reason. I know they talk about depression but just would like to know. Take care.

      • victoria codispoti says:

        Thanks Phyllis…Read Pam Wible’s posts…it’s the hours, the way med students are treated…they are expected to be superhuman..no sleep, no food, hours on end of seeing patients…you name it.!

  2. I deeply appreciate the work you’re doing to bring awareness about physician suicide and create solutions for med students and house staff, and physicians as a whole. Your active and ongoing advocacy and deeply moving documentary – as witnessed by this preview – have done more than any of the myriad depersonalized academic “studies” and well-meaning conference “breakout sessions” to bring urgent attention to the issue and propose pragmatic ways we might actually intervene.
    I also appreciate your previously highlighting the powerful role that academic, regulatory and supposedly rehabilitative agencies might have played in some of these suicides. The whole range of dynamics that contribute to that final desperate act must be fully examined.
    I am asking a variety of physician circles I am involved with to watch this trailer and make a contribution.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thank you Kernan! And this film has a huge future ahead if/when we get the funding. Could even head to the Academy Awards (I am not even joking!). Game plan: Documentary will be completed this year and then entered into Sundance and other top ten film festivals with potential theatrical release in movie theaters. PBS has already expressed interest in the film which may be aired on Frontline before moving to foreign distribution and digital platforms. Ultimately, this film will be a teaching tool in medical schools, residencies, and hospitals worldwide. Please help make this happen. Physicians must stand up an support this effort to liberate our profession.

  3. Leanne Chrisman-Khawam says:

    Consider theater of war– I attended at ACGME — was profound. Consider counselors on site because it is intense

    Also BALINT training can have long lasting resiliency effects

  4. Thank you for keeping these issues front and center.

    Some medical schools and residency training sites have programs for well-being, and available “counselors” (some of whom are fellow physicians). They’re also sprinting to keep up with the tsunami of information and experience that each trainee must master in becoming physicians. Overall, though the Machine goes on or the whole thing collapses. And medical students, residents, and practicing physicians continue to die by suicide when they completely lose hope.

    It’s no longer a matter of “culling the herd” by diagnosing mental illness in a few and running them out of medicine. It’s the need for comprehensive understanding and intervention so that our ENTIRE medical system becomes more humane. Increasing community beyond periodic retreats and “vent sessions” is essential. There are ways to institute this, and to get those in leadership positions to value them. We will still need to treat existing depression and other illness when it develops — but primary prevention means deeply reviewing how we’re doing things and making essential changes to enhance health, healing, and sanity in the medical profession.

    I will help you with your film.

  5. Delores Kotschwar MD says:

    I had a classmate and two attending physicians commit suicide while I was in training. I have never forgotten.

  6. The strategy to help med students or doctors is unlikely non-existent but it is clearly inadequate.

    In high-stress professions like medicine, continual advocacy is required, by people such as Pamela Wible, to lead to positive change. We know denial, arrogance, anger and resistance is always a part of the process. That’s why passion, perseverance, negotiation, persuasion and commitment to a team effort is critical and mandatory.

    Change is always possible. Adjustments can be made that can serve all parties.

    One critical omission I see is not offering a private, confidential stress management/burnout professional for med students and physicians. Why not protect those who care for mankind? Why not give them every resource necessary?

    If med schools and healthcare facilities would create such a resource, if they would also create specialized conflict resolution departments for disputes, there is no doubt that this would have an eye-opening impact.

    We also need to examine and strongly question “the way things have always been done” and re-examine the burdens put on healthcare, administration, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.

  7. Love says:

    Thank you for this topic. I’m not much of a blogger. Actually, this is my first time but I feel compelled to comment on this topic because I experienced resident depression first hand. I’m generally a very happy person and if you knew me, you would have never guessed I was depressed at one point. My depression stemmed from an attending who missed treated me during my residency creating an intense work environment. I never complained about him because I’m not that type of person. I kindly asked the attending to please stop mistreating me because it took an emotional toll on me for which I had to seek therapy. Instead of acknowledging his behaviors, the tables turned against me. The next thing I knew, I was in the deans office being questioned about my “well-being” and required to get a psychiatric evaluation. I told them of the passive aggressive behaviors of the attending displayed towards me, but no one cared to listen…no one. Even the well-being doctor, didn’t care to listen. In fact, his theory was it’s normal to work in an intense work environment. So what did I get out of expressing my feeling and asking an attending to please stop mistreating me? I was labeled as “mentally unstable” and required a psychiatric evaluation, while the attending gets away with mistreating residents… And people wonder my residents commit suicide. It’s not the work load, the lack of sleep, or the patients. In mine and many other residents opinions, it’s the attendings. Please be kind to your residents and remember just saying the words “good job” goes a long way.

  8. HEALTH WORKS HEALTH WORKS says:

    WTF #!@$&\#!#/!
    Is happening to have these brillant talented souls be so driven to end their physical lives so tragically?
    Where there any early signs that went ignored by their fellow students, faculty ,family , friends?? Did any give any hint they needed wanted help?
    Is the drive for ‘up loading’ as much medical information and experience into as tight a time course of 4 years promoting information overload??

  9. Dr. Dan says:

    Physician Bullying, mistreatment, and suicide is something that is become all too common place in medical education and training. Intimidation has become the status quo and that needs to change IMMEDIATELY. I am a second year resident, and know of someone who unfortunately had an untimely death by suicide. In our residency they tried to reach out to the person to assist her in coping with her grievances, but they were too late, and the damage had been done years before.

    I will gladly take part in this documentary. Please let me know anyway I can be of assistance. This is a hugely important matter I am very passionate about, and will do anything I can do to help.

  10. pedresident says:

    Why is it that I cannot find any information about this most recent victim? Why aren’t people talking about this? So disturbing

  11. Victoria Ron says:

    I feel that residency programs dont really address physician suicide and wellness. At the beginning of each year we get some kind of report in the form of an email that a resident in NYC or in another training program has committed suicide. Maybe one email to address the fact with a half hearted speech to get help if we need it a remind us we have access to counselors to talk to.

    But no mention of the victims. Why did they do it? Who were they? What could have prevented the tragedy? Questions I want answers to, but no one ever mentions the topic again until the next round of suicides.

  12. Pissed off Doc says:

    Well we are resented by the public, hated by the government, painted as greedy 1%’ers and made to suffer as a political ploy to appease the masses that the upper class is getting their cummupance.
    We treat one another like human garbage, we punish intelligence, we police one another constantly seeking out infractions against the progressive code of political correctness.
    We expect perfection from ourselves and so do our patients. We are kept up all night on a regular basis. We have our compensation cut over and over again. We are expected to take on an ever increasing administrative burden. We only remember our mistakes.
    Maybe those reasons help explain why doctors are depressed and commit suicide.

    • Joe says:

      Who says doctors “are resented by the public, hated by the govt, painted as greed 1%ers and made to suffer as a political ploy to appease the masses that the upper class is getting their cummupance”?
      That’s just nonsense, you sound like an angry old right wing conservative

      • Mike says:

        This NYC Medicaid patient says so – about hospital physicians.Murderous discrimination against patients on public insurance is both a matter of public record and common subject of complaints by some doctors. Meanwhile Ken Davis, the psychiatrist CEO of Mt Sinai’s supposedly “non-profit” system took home a 3.1M $ bonus. The discrimination permeates the culture in NYC hospitals,where physicians graduate from residency only when they’ve learned to be comfortable subjecting the Medicaid troglydytes to grotesquely insufficient care. They hurl lives into the trash in their pursuit of Ken Davis’ income. America is a great country until you’re relegated to medical care in an NYC hospital on something less than Platinum level insurance or referred in by some Park ave hotshot.In the hospitals the sick are divided by class – some will get effective medicine and the rest will get used to train incompetent residents,guinea pig meds and kept chronically ill, constantly returning and booking fees so KL Davis can make 4.1M running a so-called non profit.Many hospital doctors have totally surrendered the idea of effectively diagnosing or treating illness. They know there’s nothing to fear from underserving patients with no political power. Instead,they will engage in unethical conduct to satisfy those who hold their career in their hands. The very nature of the system was inevitably going to create narcissistic,inhumane,greedy doctors.And so it has.

  13. NYCDoc says:

    I’m currently a second year resident. I started off as a medicine resident in a program in NYC. The faculty had told us about the free therapy sessions that were offered to residents and encouraged us to seek help should we need it. I decided to schedule an appointment for counseling sessions, mainly to deal with issues relating to anxiety and OCD that I had even prior to entering residency. I had attended several sessions and everything was going fine until I was called into the Program Director’s office one day after the senior resident and I made a mistake and did not follow up on a patient’s labwork during an overnight shift (resulting in an adverse outcome), as we were distracted by a code called on another patient. During the meeting with my PD, I was surprised to find that he brought up my counseling sessions when we were told that they would be confidential. Not only did he bring up the fact that I had sought out therapy, but he used this against me during my meeting. This led to a series of events that ultimately resulted in my transferring programs. The program I’m in now is much better and more supportive, but I honestly felt suicidal at the time. Thankfully, everything worked out for me, but it’s scary that when residents do actually try to seek help, that it’s not confidential and can be used against them. Terrifying situation at the time that I hope other residents will not have to endure.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      So they assured you these were “confidential” and they were not? This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this. Terrible breach of privacy. It’s crucial to know who your therapist works for (as in who writes their check). Is it the school? Or you? There are alliances that must be known to allow for a truly therapeutic relationship.

    • Ruth says:

      Hi,
      I’m so sorry that you had to go through this! I’m a journalist working on an article about this issue for a reputable news organization. Can I speak with you regarding your experience? All information will be kept confidential. Please email me at uou2104@columbia.edu

  14. anthony labrusca says:

    Fantastic article . I am thankful for the facts – Does someone know if my assistant might be able to access a fillable NY DTF IT-2104 form to use ?

  15. Nikki says:

    How can one million doctors commit suicide every year in US when on average there are 44,000 a year?

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