Remembering our fallen physicians


For Labor Day & Suicide prevention week, may we remember our physicians who worked until their last breaths. All published with permission.

Dr. Greg Miday admitted the greatest number of patients to Barnes Hx as a nocturnist. Years after his suicide, patients still post on his obituary “I will never forget he gave me the sweetest look and said I am bringing him back. Danny was terminal, but because of Dr Miday we had 2 extra years with our husband, Dad and Papa.”

Dr. Steven Ortiz, beloved spine surgeon, hospital corruption whistleblower, spent the early hours of Feb 8th checking on his patients before shooting himself in the heart in the hospital parking lot. His truck covered with flowers for nearly a month.

Dr. Wayne Gunkle, orthopaedic surgeon, bought the rope on his way into his office Sunday morning. After dictating charts, he left a note “Sorry for all the patients I couldn’t help.”

Kaitlyn Elkins, died by suicide near the top of her class with dreams of becoming an anesthesiologist.

Dr. Varun, sent me this letter 2 years before his suicide

Dear Pamela,

Hi, dear. You don’t know how thankful I am to you for writing that article on physician’s suicide. I really wanted to hug you after reading it. I had really rough day after seeing 130 outpatients and 60 emergency admissions in a 12 hour duty. I work as a final year MD internal medicine resident in one of the busiest hospital in India. I saw a part of myself in every page of your article  Just couldn’t stop reading. It’s 3:00 am in the morning and after a demanding day of work and studies reading your article was the best thing today.

It takes me 5 hours by flight to reach my home from my hospital. I have my wife and 6 month old son (whom I been with for 15 days since his birth) at home. I work day in and out just to be with them once in 3 months. I don’t see my colleagues smile, I hear my patients misery every day. I smile and crack jokes even when I am sad so I can bring joy into my patients sorrowful life.

Today I saw this patient who died, married with a son, the only earning member of his family …….his widow just wouldn’t accept that he was dead. She kept talking to him. I just didn’t know what to feel ….. I was numb for a minute thinking what if that was me …. And the kid is my son…..

I see deaths everyday in ward …..I don’t know if you would believe me, but 4 deaths per day in a single ward of 40 beds overcrowded to 125 patients admitted at a time. Two patients on a bed, two lying together on the floor. Poverty, misery and pain all around. I’ve declared 12 patients dead in a day. I just don’t feel death anymore, just don’t feel human. My uncle died recently, I felt nothing deep inside just some memories and that is it.

I write this mail hoping that the way I survive my day would help you in helping others.

I always ay hi to everyone my colleagues, the ward sweeper to the guard in the ward. I never eat alone and always make sure I share my food. I always smile whenever I talk to my patients. I hold their hands when I talk. Listen to music whenever possible. And everyday whenever possible I talk to my wife, father, mother, and brother (all of them are doctors).

But still this profession demands too much from us. I’ve thought of giving up and suicide a thousand times ……the misery was too much for me to see 12 people die in a day. The only thing that keeps me moving forward is my family and friends.

I appreciate what you are doing. It took me 4 hours to write this mail. It is 7 am in the morning. But your article was worth it. Thank you. Thanks a lot…..

Dr. Varun

Just 5 of the more than 1600 doctor suicides I’m aware of.

Rest in peace my sweet brothers & sisters in medicine

If you’re struggling,please ask for help here
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