Coronavirus pandemic increasing already high risk of doctor suicide →

Listen to the interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting here.

Rates of suicide for physicians are among the highest for any profession. And the strain of the coronavirus pandemic is making already strenuous working conditions nearly impossible to bear for some and impossible for others. We talk with two Oregon doctors involved in responding to the mental health crisis in medicine and ask what is being done to prevent it. Pamela Wible practices medicine in Eugene and is the author of “Human Rights Violations in Medicine: A-to-Z Action Guide.” Don Girard is professor emeritus at Oregon Health & Science University and chairs the executive committee of the Oregon Wellness Program.

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September 17th is Physician Suicide Awareness Day. Join me in honoring 93 doctors we lost to suicide. →

View the Wall of Remembrance (above) at the end of the newly released award-winning documentary, Do No Harm: Exposing the Hippocratic Hoax, a film that exposes our doctor suicide  crisis and honors nearly 100 doctors who have died by suicide. Join me today in remembering them. View full-feature film by Emmy-winning filmmaker now on Amazon Prime.

Greg Hamlin Miday, M.D., Internist

Kevin Thomas Dietl, D.O., Degree Awarded Posthumously

Kaitlyn Nicole Elkins, Medical Student

Sean Michael Petro, Medical Student

Emily Ariel Bamberger, M.D.,Ph.D. Candidate

Jacob “Dr. J” Neufeld, M.D., M.P.H, Pediatric Physiatrist

John Chuan Loh, Medical Student

Gabriel Goodwin, M.D., Anesthesiologist

Evan Astin, M.D., Internal Medicine Resident

Gregory Andrew Collins, M.D., Family Physician

Lara Barnett, M.D., Internal Medicine Resident

Charles Christopher Martin, M.D., Family Medicine Resident

Carrie Ann Largent, Medical Student

William Samuel Brown, M.D., Radiologist

Robert Karoly Chu, M.D., M.P.H., Aspiring Radiologist

Jeremy Egnatios, Medical Student

Steven G. Ortiz, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon

Alan R. Rowlan, M.D., Surgeon

Kim Marie Walsh, M.D., M.P.H., Family Physician

Ross Alan Gallo, M.D., Psychiatrist

Abdurrahman Unal, M.D., Radiation Oncologist

Alain Bolduc, M.D., Dermatologist

Alex Djuricich, M.D., Internist and Pediatrician

Amanda Liu, D.O., Radiology Resident

Andrew Bryant, M.B.B.S., Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist

Benjamin Shaffer, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon

Boyd Dan Batla, Medical Student

Bryan Whitemarsh, M.D., Family Physician

Captain Michael McCaddon, M.D., Obstetrics/Gynecology Resident

Carol D. Lee, M.D., Emergency Physician

Chloe Eliza Abbott, M.B.B.S., Medical Registrar

Christine E. Petrich, M.D., Psychiatrist

Christopher Dawson, M.D., Surgeon

Corbin Shawn, M.D., M.S., Pathology Resident

Daniel Gunther, M.D., Pediatric Endocrinologist

David Gersztenkorn, M.D., Ophthalmology Resident

David Scott Brooks, M.D., Family Physician

Deelshad Joomun, M.D., Interventional Nephrologist

Douglas F. Meyer, M.D., M.P.H., Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist

Eric S. Steichen, Medical Student

Greg Feldman, M.D., Vascular Surgeon

Hans Christopher Machula, M.D., Degree Awarded Posthumously

Jack Andrew Singer, M.D., Ophthalmologist

James C. Kelly, D.O., Family Physician

James K. Bauman, M.D., Obstetrician/Gynecologist

James Ray Anderson, D.O., General Practitioner

James Wilson Dow, M.D., Cardiologist

Janet Y. Christophel, M.D., Anesthesiology Resident

Jeffrey Knobloch, D.O., Family Physician

John D. Wilson, Sr., M.D., Family Physician

John Franklin Dorsey, Medical Student

John Mark Baar, M.D., Psychiatrist

John Mark Madsen, Medical Student

John McNaugher Stang, M.D., Cardiologist

Jon Azkue, M.D., Internist

Jonathan J. Drummond-Webb, M.D., Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgeon

Jonathan W. R. Davies, M.D., Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Kelly Werlinger, M.D., Aspiring Dermatologist

Kurt A. Swanson, M.D., Anesthesiologist

Lee Ray Winkler, D.O., Obstetrics/Gynecology Resident

Leslie Gale Bluman, Medical Student

Marc E. Wise, M.D., J.D., Anesthesiology Resident

Mark A. Gonsky, D.O., General Practitioner

Mark William Sebastian, M.D., Vascular Surgeon

Matt Wittman, Medical Student

Matthew Carl Bishop, M.D., M.B.A., Emergency Physician

Mitchell D. Hardison, M.D., Internist

Myles K. Gaupp, Jr., M.D., Family Physician

Natalie Carol Sieb, D.O., Family Physician

Nehal A. Shah, M.D., Aspiring Family Physician

Neil Grover, Medical Student

Noah Chase Beadell, M.D., Neurologist

Paki Myers, M.D., Emergency Physician

Patrick Glenn Daus, D.O., Emergency Physician

Ramsey Oliver Coles, Medical Student

Richard Irwin Caesar, M.D., Addiction Specialist and Emergency Physician

Richard “Pete” Dickson, M.D., Family Physician

Rita E. Leighton, M.D., Anesthesiologist

Rita Kay Payne, M.D., Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Robert E. Elliott, M.D., Radiologist

Robert Shaw Bowling, Jr., M.D., Family Physician

Robert Wolyn, M.D., Cardiologist

Ronald Chance Brown, M.D., Internist

Roseanna Polge, B.M.B.S., Medical Intern

Russel J. Vancoevering, II, M.D., Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Scot Pencil, M.D., Ph.D., Pathologist

Shawn C. Kelley, M.D., Internist

Stephen P. Kelleher, M.D., Nephrologist

Steven L. Anthony, D.O., Otolaryngologist

Ted Eastburn, M.D., Cardiologist

Varun Babu, M.D., Cardiology Resident

Wayne Allen Hendrix, M.D., Anesthesiology Resident

Wayne M. Gunckle, D.O., Orthopaedic Surgeon

                            . . . and the thousands of unnamed doctors . . .

View documentary and help stop the crisis.

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New award-winning film exposes doctor suicide crisis →

View full-feature documentary by Emmy-winning filmmaker now on Amazon Prime.


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Physician Suicide Postvention (What to do after a doctor suicide) →

Doctor suicide is a public health crisis that claims the lives of an estimated 400 US doctors annually. Given each doctor cares for upwards of 2000 – 3000 active patients, more than one million Americans risk losing their doctors to suicide each year. Responding with compassion and honesty in the aftermath of a physician suicide is essential to helping loss survivors—colleagues, patients, and families—heal from the loss. In the absence of emotional support and open communication, loss survivors may experience lifelong impacts from the trauma that may increase their own suicide risk. To ameliorate these adverse effects, medical institutions must have a postvention plan in place that can be utilized in a timely manner.

After a recent suicide of an emergency physician in Washington State, I led 6 hours of crisis debriefing for the emergency staff and all doctors and staff of the hospital. Need help in the aftermath of a suicide? Please contact Dr. Wible for assistance in facilitating sessions and her manual on how medical institutions should respond to a doctor suicide to best help loss survivors heal.

 

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Celebrating Juneteenth—my reflections on race, unity, and love →

On this day of unity, inclusion, and freedom—I am so honored to celebrate our oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the USA. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the slaves were now free! On that day, Union Major-General Gordon Granger read this General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.

As a Texan, I grew up celebrating Juneteenth and I am so dang proud of my home state for being the first to make Juneteenth an official state holiday on January 1, 1980. As a medical student I lived and studied a few blocks away from where this Order was read in Galveston.

I’m also proud of my med school. In 1902, UTMB/Galveston opened the first state-funded hospital for African-Americans in Texas. In 1949, my school graduated the first African-American in Texas, Dr. Herman A. Bernett. My medical school has been celebrated as the most diverse medical school in the country.

I’ve lived more than half a century as a healer on this planet and so on this day of freedom I want to share my reflections on race, unity, and love (originally posted on Facebook on June 4th amid the protests against police brutality).

I’ve loved and dated men & women of many colors, races, religions. I live with a black man now. We’ve been together 7 years. I raised a teen foster son—a black man. For a year, I had a homeless black man living with me. Here I am in 1985 with my high school boyfriend, Demetric.

Pamela and Demetric as young teens at the mall in Dallas.

We were both relatively innocent, and certainly young and hopeful. What I experienced with him opened my eyes to what I’d never ever experienced dating white guys. I was 16. He was 14. I was a senior. He was a freshman. We went to high school together in North Dallas near my house. He lived in South Dallas. Neither of us had a car so we walked everywhere and rode the bus to see each other. I recall these incidents as if they were yesterday:

1) Walking through North Dallas, we were often stopped by police (and other random people). They’d ask me, “Are you okay? Do you need a ride home?” Happened over and over again.

2) In stores like Neiman Marcus and even Woolworths security guards followed us around. Only happened with him. Never when I was alone or with anyone else.

3) My friend’s dad pulled me into a room and gave me an anti-miscegenation lecture (his diatribe against racial interbreeding). He recited quotes from the Bible to support his agenda. I thought he was nuts. I’d never belong to a religion that opposed loving someone. Turns out miscegenation was a felony in the US. When I was born (1967), exactly one-third of all states (17) had anti-miscegenation laws —all Southern states (former slave states plus Oklahoma) still enforced these laws. The anti-miscegenation law in Texas was overturned when I was two. it took Mississippi until 1987, South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until 2000 to amend their states’ constitutions to remove language prohibiting miscegenation.

4) The thing that really stood out to me about my boyfriend’s behavior was that he held his head down in my neighborhood. He always said, “yes sir” and “yes ma’am” and he spoke really really softly. In his neighborhood he was so lively and expressive and free. I felt more comfortable in his neighborhood than mine. I had more fun there and I adored his family—especially his mom who adopted me as her Goddaughter. My neighborhood seemed stuffy and uptight. Demetric was clearly on high alert and scared. The police only stopped us in my neighborhood.

Now, 35 years later I’m with a man who lost his unarmed friend murdered by a cop at his home. My sweet partner below was pulled over by a cop and thrown to the ground with police dogs on him.

My partner around the time he was attacked by police

Why was he pulled over and attacked? He was making a left turn when the light suddenly turned yellow. So in broad daylight two police made him undress down to his underwear with dogs on him, calling him the N word. My friendly, loving, and sweetheart of a man now has PTSD. He tells me, “That’s why I don’t like to go outside.” We’ve only been out to a restaurant a few times in all these years. He feels safer at home.

My sweet partner with his daughter—a product of “miscegenation.”

So how are we going to address this as a nation? I don’t favor lashing out at others. I favor looking in the mirror at our own prejudice. Here’s what I mean . . .

Both my parents were upset that I was dating Demetric. Furious actually. Both disowned me during my first year of college. How could my own parents be racist? My mom said it wasn’t about race. It was about class. I’ve never cared how much money anyone I dated had in their bank account. Irrelevant to me.

How could me loving someone be SO disturbing to SO many people?

My maternal great grandfather was in the KKK and according to my relatives “hunted black men for sport.” I had a family member tell my current partner this to his face a few years ago. Racism is taught inside families and passed down from generation to generation. From there it seeps into police departments and every other profession.

Pamela and brother playing with kids at a fountain in downtown Philadelphia

I’ll close with a photo of me and my brother playing at a Philadelphia fountain with other kids on a hot summer day and a piece of my artwork with words I wrote as a child: “I love everyone.” All children start out this way—until they learn from their parents or society to hate and fear others.

One of my all-time favorite pictures I took for my high school photography class later featured in an exhibit at my medical school in Galveston entitled, “All God’s Children.”

Demetric’s youngest sister and her cousins

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