Physician Suicide Challenge

This summer I did the [ALS] ice bucket challenge. But I’m challenged by another disease. A disease so scary people won’t say it out loud. A disease so frightening that doctors are afraid to talk about it. A disease so feared that physicians falsify death certificates, families deny the cause of death, and most victims’ names are hidden for eternity.

Every year we lose over 400 doctors to suicide. That’s like an entire medical school—gone. I was suicidal. I survived. But I lost both men I dated in med school to suicide. And 3 doctors in my town in just over a year to suicide. Each year over 1 million Americans will lose their doctors to suicide. These are just the physician suicides I heard about this year:

Gregory Miday, MD, internist, by scalpel in bathtub

Vincent Uybarreta, MD, surgery intern, by belt hanging in closet

Kaitlyn Elkins, third-year medical student (and her grieving mother, Rhonda Elkins), both by helium overdose

David Brooks, MD, family doctor, by standing in front of train

Phillip Henderson, MD, III, fourth-generation obstetrician, by gunshot wound

Rafael, family doctor in South Carolina, by overdose

Gregg, internist in California, by overdose

Pediatrician in Oregon, by gunshot wound in park

Vascular surgeon in California, by carbon monoxide

Urologist in Oregon, by gunshot wound

Larry, anesthesiologist in Oregon, by overdose in hospital closet

Edward, family doctor in Oregon, by gunshot wound in clinic

Otolaryngologist in Kentucky, by jumping from balcony

Orthopedic surgeon in California

Anesthesiologist in Washington

Female third-year medical student in Michigan, by overdose

Another medical student in Michigan

Male surgeon

Male radiation oncologist

Male internist

Male doctor

Male doctor

Male colorectal surgeon in Texas

Male medical student

Male doctor

Male doctor

Male intern

Male pediatric surgeon, by gunshot wound in bedroom

Male doctor

Female internist

Male family medicine resident

Male doctor, by gunshot wound

Male family doctor, by drowning

Male second-year medical student in Washington, by gunshot wound

Male neurosurgeon

Cardiologist in California, by gunshot wound in laundry room

Male anesthesiologist

Female family physician in Iowa

Male anesthesiologist, by overdose in hospital

Another male anesthesiologist, by overdose in hospital

Male medical student

Jack, doctor

Male doctor in Oregon

Jose, doctor

Craig, doctor

Male physician

Male surgeon

Female physician

Female medical student

Another female medical student

Male medical student

Male doctor, by heroin overdose

Male pediatric intensivist, by plane crash

Male family physician, by gunshot wound

Female obstetrician, by driving off bridge

Male obstetrician, by gunshot wound

Male internist, by overdose

Male medical student, by jumping

Male medical student, by gunshot wound

Male physician

Male surgeon

Male family physician in Alabama, by gunshot wound in driveway

A married physician couple, by overdose

Another married physician couple, by overdose in hotel room

Female doctor in Wyoming

Male allergist in Oregon, by jumping from hospital parking garage

Rudolph Fajardo, MD, pediatrician, by gunshot wound

Bruce Feldman, MD, surgeon, by jumping from bridge

Male doctor

Captain Michael Ryan McCaddon, MD, Army obstetrician, killed himself at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu

Nicholas DePizzo, MD, family doctor, by gunshot wound in office

Henry Norrid, DO, by gunshot wound

Male radiation oncologist in Illinois, by jumping from window

Leonard Graff, MD, by gunshot wound in clinic

Jonathan Drummond-Webb, MD, pediatric heart surgeon, by overdose

Harry Reiss, MD, urologist in NYC, by overdose in clinic

Male doctor

Carrie Largent, second-year medical student

Douglas Meyer, MD, gastroenterologist, by jumping from hospital window in NYC

Daniel Gunther, MD, pediatric endocrinologist, by inhaling car exhaust

Hamza Brimah, MD internist, by gunshot wound

Male doctor, by overdose

Male doctor, by gunshot wound

Female anesthesiologist

Medical student in Boston

Another medical student in Boston

A third medical student in Boston

A fourth medical student in Boston

Male otolaryngologist, by hanging himself in hotel room

Male anesthesiologist, by overdose at the hospital

Male family doctor, by gunshot wound

Male doctor, by gunshot wound

Male pediatric endocrinologist, by hanging

Male physician

Another physician

Medical student

Male physician

Male medical student

Male physician

Male physician in Oregon, by gunshot wound

Male obstetrician, by gunshot wound

Male family medicine resident, by gunshot wound

Male obstetrician, by gunshot wound

Female physician, by overdose

Male family physician, by overdose

Male obstetrician, by overdose

Male psychiatrist, by gunshot wound

Female medical student, by gunshot wound after failing exam by 2 points

Female pediatrician

Emergency room physician in Oregon

Female anesthesiologist, by overdose

Orthopedic surgeon in Seattle, by gunshot wound in car

Male physician, by jumping from hospital

Another male physician, by jumping from hospital

Pediatric cardiologist

Pediatric immunologist

Male urologist, by stabbing himself in abdomen in hospital parking garage

Female medical student

Female otolaryngologist, by carbon monoxide

Medical student

Surgeon in Houston, by gunshot wound

Male medical student

Male urologist in Oregon

Urology resident in Portland, by walking in front of a truck on highway

Female physician, suicided after not getting a dermatology residency

Male first-year medical student

Radiologist

Obstetrician in Arkansas

Another obstetrician

 

When will it end?

 

Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician dedicating her life to ending physician suicide. She recently learned of these victims (though not all died this year).  This list represents a small fraction of the U.S. medical students and doctors we lose every year to suicide. Learn how you can stop these suicides: Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies & Solutions and Physician Suicide Etiquette: What to do when your doctor dies suddenly.

Director of photography: GeVe. Voiceover and cello: Pamela Wible, M.D.

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12 comments on “Physician Suicide Challenge
  1. Pamela Wible MD says:

    Before we can solve a problem, we need public awareness.

    My physician suicide public awareness video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNoLigQzp5M

    I give full & unrestricted permission for anyone to show my physician suicide pubic awareness video at medical staff meetings, medical conventions, medical schools, clinics, hospitals, residency programs, movie theaters, family reunions, funerals, all social media sites, and on local and national news like 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR etc . .

    ** Do NOT allow the suicide conversation die.**

    Thank you for caring & sharing.

  2. Ann S. says:

    I am trying to come up with some words and failing. This is more then tragic. Thank you for your courage, knowledge and voice.
    I’ve worked in the medical field for many years and did not know this well kept secret.

    I will share your link with the organization where I work. It needs to be acknowledged and hopefully some healing will start.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Yes. The more people an grasp the truth of what is going on, the sooner the healer for all of us.

      I give full & unrestricted permission for anyone to show my physician suicide awareness video at medical staff meetings, medical conventions, hospitals, medical schools, clinics, residency programs, movie theaters, family reunions, funerals, all social media sites, and on local and national news like 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR etc . . . (and anywhere else) . . .

      Thank you to ALL who are sharing & caring.

  3. Robert Barker II MD says:

    Pamela, I am a third-generation primary care doctor currently working in Arizona.I too have survived suicide. When I received my medical degree, my father told me that we belong to a unique fraternity and that our duty is to care for one another. Thanks to the support I have received from fellow doctors, I am a stronger and more knowledgeable person and wish to reach out to anyone who needs help.
    The Arizona medical Board program for alcohol and drug problems in doctors is extremely punitive and expensive costing $1000 a month for five years so as not to forefoot your license while in their overly demanding mandatory five year recovery program. It,s hard to ask for help when the result is punishment. It seems that the disease of addiction closely associated with suicide has now become a money maker for those who are in power and can take advantage. Any suggestions on how to combat this trend would to be appreciated. Thanks again for your campaign.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Robert:

      1) Shine light on problem. We can not fix something if we have no awareness. Physicians who have been injured by these punitive programs need to write & speak about this at local med society, local newspaper, medical conferences, among peers. Do not stop addressing this. Make it your mission.

      2) Offer alternate way to help our colleagues who have (occupationally-induced) drug, alcohol, mental distress. Think along the lines of primary, secondary, tertiary prevention strategies as outlined in my suicide 101 blog.

      3) Realize that if we do not take this on nobody else will. Politicians, administrators, CEOs do not have the interest that we have (or should have) in supporting each other.

      4) The public should be outraged that we are losing excellent doctors to suicide and these punitive programs than ultimately injure us all.

      5) Call me if you need any other ideas: 541-345-2437.

      Do something.

      ~ Pamela

  4. Mike says:

    And yet I see physicians do the same thing to nurses all the time. Especially by surgeons.

  5. J says:

    There was a male intern who jumped off his old medical school dormitory, and a male anesthesia resident found dead by propofol overdose in his apartment. Both in New York.

  6. Paramjit Singh says:

    It is indeed sad that doctors have to end their lives by suicide. There are many factors leading to suicide among physicians but their extreme hard life and the total lack of empathy by their colleagues in the profession is according to me the main reason. We doctors pride in treating patients and bringing them back from death in many case. When it comes to our own we just don’t care. Anybody committing suicide is looked down upon. The sbuse of doctors starts with their entry into medical school and continues, not by aanybody but their own members. Such is the level of abuse that nobody raises any voice. The system is built on rewarding kiss asses and that is the majority in our profession.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Huge cycle of abuse. The victims become the victimizers. Stockholm syndrome rampant. As is denial.

  7. WT Roth says:

    As a patient I find it amazing doctors commit suicide. The ones I’ve run into are arrogant, corrupt and lazy. If those people commit suicide I will gladly help them. People are getting screwed by a corrupt system and if doctors won’t stand by the people then to hell with them. I have yet to find a doctor I can trust. The doctors today are being bought by the insurance companies and/or the pharmaceutical companies.

    Funny, I grew up believing they were some of the best of us only to discover they are just as corrupt as the worst of us. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the corrupt ones are the ones committing suicide.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      The sweet sensitive caring ones are often dying first. Until we can develop empathy for one another things will only get worse. Patients and doctors are on the same team you know.

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