A doctor suicide is more important than a cookie recipe


I spent last weekend in NYC. I didn’t go to a Broadway Show. I didn’t go shopping at Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue. I didn’t dine at any fine restaurants. Instead, I sat at 515 W. 59th—the location of the most recent Sinai suicide.

A new attending physician—just four days into her position at the hospital—walked across the street to a building that houses nearly 500 doctors. At 3:30 in the afternoon she stood on the roof of the 33-story high rise in her white coat. Then stepped off the ledge.

I planted myself on the pavement where she died. I brought flowers and candles. I bought her Valentine’s Day hearts full of truffles. I arranged the beautiful bouquets from all across the country. And I eulogized her—and the others who died in the same spot.

I learned of her suicide an hour after she died from the wife of a physician—a busy mom with three little kids who was begging me for help. She broke away from her usual routine—baking brownies and reading bedtime stories—to snap this photo of the scene outside her window. Then she shared this:

“I posted a heartfelt note on a private Facebook group called ‘Lives of Doctors Wives’ with over 11,000 members with the KevinMD article and your own. Many women saw it and fiercely responded in rage about what happened and very empathetic to what I wrote and wanted justice for this doctor too. But get this—the admin on the group DELETES my post! Apparently you can’t post a ‘call to action.’ I’m so upset—this group only talks about cookie recipes. WTF. If you’re going to have a group called ‘Lives of Doctors Wives’ we need to talk about these issues, so much more important than trading moving tips, come on. Anyways fortunately SO many women posted separately with just a link to your articles and so the conversation is still going. They have so much praise for you in all of the comments. I was going to screen shot and send them to you till they frickin’ deleted my post.”

What was the call to action? To buy flowers for a doctor’s memorial? To bring a candle to a vigil? To discuss doctor suicide?

I’m no stranger to physician suicide censorship.

In July of 2017, my post was deleted and I was banned from Physician Mom’s Group—a Facebook group with > 60,000 female physicians who discuss everything from the most challenging medical cases to new business ventures. Women docs give and receive advice on book covers, clothing line launches, and, of course, cookie recipes. Here’s what I wrote verbatim about the forthcoming film by Robyn Symon—an Emmy winning filmmaker who has dedicated the last 3 years of her life to addressing our doctor suicide crisis.

“Morbid post. Need help. We are designing film poster for Do No Harm film to prevent doc suicides and we’ve got an internal dispute about BEST angle for slitting one’s arteries for suicide. Here are two versions. Definitely appreciate any help. Specifically what angle would a doctor use? Thoughts?”

In the midst of a lively conversation with nearly 150 comments my post was deleted and I was banned from the site.

Kicked off PMG - 2017-07-22 at 3.30.08 PM

On 11/8/14 after medical students shared that my blog “How to graduate medical school without killing yourself” actually saved their lives, I shared it on the Student Doctor Network. I had previously attempted to share information on medical student suicide prevention. Apparently I’m not allowed to post blogs (or excerpts from my blogs) on doctor suicide—even if information can prevent suicides of their own members on Student Doctor Network. So I was banned.

Then my book was banned from an anesthesia department. After the suicide of a former internal medicine resident and an anesthesiology resident at a prominent US hospital (in which no grief counseling was offered) an attending purchased 6 copies of my book Physician Suicide Letters—Answered to distribute to her residents. She was summoned to the office of the division chief who stole the books she had left for residents in the anesthesia workroom and told she was not to distribute these books to the residents.

After being invited by the AMA to deliver my TEDMED talk, I was disinvited shortly before the event because they were “uncomfortable” with the topic of physician suicide.

I write and speak on many topics. Somehow only the doctor suicide content keeps getting deleted and banned.

I am eternally grateful to those who have stood by me during the past 5 years in my quest to save doctors’ lives— Kevin Pho MD, The Washington Post, Medscape and TEDMED. Thank you for never censoring lifesaving content from your sites.

Censorship and secrecy will not solve our suicide crisis.

For those who are still uncomfortable with the truth, try a few of these:


Want the ultimate in free speech? Liberate yourself from assembly-line medicine. Launch your own practice. Learn how to be the doctor you always imagined at our upcoming seminar. Can’t wait? Join the Fast track.

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17 comments on “A doctor suicide is more important than a cookie recipe
  1. Toni says:

    Thank you, Dr. Wible, for the cause you have taken by the horns, and for bringing it into the open. It WILL be an invaluable subject/topic in all med schools in the future.
    Although my daughter has never attempted to take her life, that I’m aware of, she is not the happy, go lucky young lady who began med school years ago. That person disappeared. She slowly faded away through med school, residency, a thriving clinic practice, and aggressive breast cancer. She has a great support system in the medical community, a wonderful husband, three beautiful, young children, and a lovely home. However, her smiles and laughter are not frequent. But she is alive, and for that I am eternally thankful.
    Please continue to be fierce and bold in you endeavor in fighting suicides. You are saving lives and making a difference. May God bless all you are doing!

    • Judith Volpe MD says:

      To Toni, Metastatic cancer is one of the worst ways to die. I do not fault or criticize those with terminal illness who choose euthanasia, instead I support Compassion and Choices.
      I have decompensated liver cirrhosis and maybe a year or two before things start to get bad. I intend to die with my boots on.

  2. Anonymous Doctor says:

    Pam, I just saw your post on Facebook on how often you get silenced, ignored, etc. And it reminded me of one reason I quit the high-profile committees I was involved with in the nationally on behalf of physicians. We were discussing physician burnout/impairment and a resolution was about to be written. I emailed the group saying should we loop you into the discussion and gave a brief introduction of your involvement in this area. The email was totally ignored. It wasn’t responded to at all, they just went on with another part of the thread as if it never happened. So sad… Keep up the good work…

  3. KC says:

    I find your words and posts so utterly inflammatory and unhelpful. I think you are disinvited from these forums not because people want to silence challenging conversations, but because your words only add to the despair of a painful situation, without offering solace or concrete suggestions. As a dear friend of a physician who lost her life to suicide, I am offended by your indictment of specific communities and institutions. Please post carefully and thoughtfully. The vast majority of us want to seek wellness for ourselves and each others, and casting blame is not a beneficial way to do this.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Censorship in medicine is the issue. Blame shall lie with the medical organizations and people who obstruct the truth. Dancing around the human right violations rampant in medical training with words like “wellness” and “burnout” while censoring lifesaving information should be criminal. Wrongful death lawsuits and FBI investigations are active in many of the now nearly 800 physician suicides I have compiled. As for solutions, I’ve written prolifically on simple things that can be done to prevent these suicides.https://www.idealmedicalcare.org/blog/physician-suicide-101-secrets-lies-solutions/

    • Patricia Ritchie says:

      KC, Dr. Wible posts specific information about how to make the situation better, such as documenting and reporting how residents often work more than the 80 hours per week allowed. She has never resorted to profanity or name-calling, so I don’t understand how you can call her posts “so utterly inflammatory and unhelpful”.

  4. April says:

    Keep up the good work. Do a facebook live talk like some politicians are doing, like Sanders. Sidestep those who ban you.

  5. dr s says:

    Dr Wible. Please do not stop investigating physician suicides, if it offends others, they can stop reading your work. I am a uk anaesthesiologist. I have worked for 30 years now, and have known 6 wonderful bright and talented colleagues in my own place of work take their lives. That’s just the ones I know about.

    I’m appalled your work has been censored. It’s not ‘fake news’ to quote someone else..

    An increased death rate from the salmonella infection in ice cream in Texas can be discussed, reasons found, and the product recalled.

    An increased death rate from leukaemia due to radioactive water, as portrayed in the film ‘Erin Brokavitch’ by Julia Roberts can be highlighted.

    I fail to see why anyone can object to your quest to look at whether there are environmental an social factors contributing to the excess deaths in our profession. Please keep up the good work, reading about your efforts has kept me from despair on several occasions, as it means I’m not the only one who has felt this way, and been seen as being weak when I cried at work over the death of a close colleague (one of the 6) of 42 who stabbed himself in the heart at home.

    Sue from uk. Contributor to book ‘suicide letters’ by Dr Pamela Wible.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Oh you really hit the nail on the head here!

      An increased death rate from the salmonella infection in ice cream in Texas can be discussed, reasons found, and the product recalled.

      An increased death rate from leukaemia due to radioactive water, as portrayed in the film ‘Erin Brokavitch’ by Julia Roberts can be highlighted.

      So WHY are we censoring doctor suicides?

  6. Dr. Nadia says:

    Thank you for speaking out and not giving up! We as physicians need to take a stand and support each other.

  7. Rachel Pian says:

    As someone who escaped the grips of suicide while in medical school a few years ago, I too tried to share my message on some of the platforms mentioned in this article. My story was met with harsh opposition— like throwing a stone at a beehive, my honesty disturbed the status quo and the results were vicious. Eventually, I gave up on trying to share my survival story with the Medical community. Very sad. Very disturbing. All I can say now is that I’m flourishing, alive and well, and LEAVING MEDICINE is a beautiful thing to do when your own life is on the line.

  8. Patricia Ritchie says:

    I think you will soon turn the tide on this censorship Dr. Wible.

  9. Thomas Braun RPh says:

    Wow! Why do we keep sweeping the truth under the rug? Why don’t we as a society address the issues dead on and have a honest discussion about what is transpiring. Suicide is created by chronic emotional stress and nutrient depletion in vital brain nutrients. Our vets are committing suicide at the rate of 29 per day. General population is at the rate of 13 per day. Why do we hide from these facts and pretend it doesn’t happen. Why doesn’t medicine get it and address it. Chronic stress in medicine needs to be eliminated not only for the physicians best interest, but also for the patient. It’s a complex issue that needs the sun to shine on. Vitamin D depletion contributes to the the complexity of the event. Research indicates that low Vitamin D blood value is present in individuals who are depressed.

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