This week I learned of a third physician who has jumped to her death in NYC. Her colleague writes:
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!
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.
Save a life. Honor the memory of a doctor.
Help prevent the next suicide.
Pamela Wible, M.D., has dedicated her life to preventing medical student and physician suicide. She is the author of Physician Suicide Letters—Answered.