Taking an oath to end doctor suicides

Patient safety whistleblower, Jacob Neufeld, M.D., (Dr. J), died by suicide after a retaliatory “impairment” allegation by his hospital that ended his career. The sole doctor caring for medically fragile children, he was forced to abandon thousands of beloved patients in Idaho for an unwarranted “rehabilitation program” in Mississippi. His mandated monthslong absence immediately endangered his patients’ lives. Dr. J’s dying wish is that we investigate events leading to his death—to prevent more doctor suicides. 💔

Dr. Wible: We’re gathered here today (and every Sunday) to make Dr. J’s dream come true. No more doctor suicides. Now people are reading Dr. J’s last words in Israel—and globally!

Rabbi Weissman: Welcome to the program Dr. Wible. I heard a very shocking story about Dr. Jacob Neufeld, a children’s doctor who cared very deeply about his patients. You’ve taken up his cause, a widespread problem of good doctors being driven to take their own lives. Tell us about yourself, how you got into the field of studying doctors and suicide, then we’ll talk more about Dr. J.

Dr. Wible: I am a family physician and suicidologist, 12 years immersed in this topic. My parents are physicians. I’m 56 years old. I’ve had more than half a century watching the medical profession devolve into an assembly-line operation lacking true informed consent and freedom of speech. How did I get into this? I was suicidal myself—a victim of this in a job that just wanted me to produce revenue; they didn’t really care about quality. I started to witness many of my colleagues dying by suicide. I seemed to be the only one who wanted to research why. Everyone else tried to pretend like these were isolated incidents. There were three in my small town in Oregon within a year. That means 10,000+ patients in my town didn’t have a doctor. I couldn’t get the newspaper (back in 2012) or TV station to report on it. I took an oath to end human suffering, so I considered it my job to research why my colleagues were dying.

Rabbi Weissman: One of the things that really struck me is when they talk about they’re going to send him to this psychiatric ward [physician “impairment” evaluation], I want to scream, “No! No! Don’t go!” In hindsight it all seems obvious what was happening to him, but in the moment as he’s going through this slowly step by step, I guess every step kind of seemed logical that he felt, you know, that maybe if I take this next step all these problems will go away.

Dr. Wible: It’s psychological grooming. These people repeat over and over again “Just sign here. We’ll get you back to work. We’ll advocate for you” sweet talk seduce you into this thing and by the time you sign (which is very early on) there’s no way out. One gentleman who died by suicide under the care of a physician “health” program said, “I didn’t kill myself. They killed me. I just finished the job.”

Rabbi Weissman: They can all say we’re following the procedure. We saw warning signs. We were looking out for his health and the health of his patients. In the end he’s the one who did the act of taking his own life. Part of what made Dr. J vulnerable to this is that he is a very sweet and trusting person. Obviously an expert in his field, but he had this childlike quality that made him connect well with children, but it didn’t help him when he was dealing with monsters.

Trust & Compliance

Rachel Neufeld: Jay really felt if he complied he would be okay. He trusted them. He believed in it. Even though it was so insane what they were telling him to do. He had no way out.

Rabbi Weissman: Trusting because he had a good soul and he cared about the patients, he  naturally assumed that everybody else around him was the same and they were not.

Rabbi Weissman: If anything good comes out of Dr. J’s passing hopefully there’s justice. There is a God in the world. You can’t always get justice in this world, although we try. There’s a God and all the people who did this to him and caused him to take his own life are going to get what’s coming to them. If we can play a small role in making that happen sooner I would be honored. Hopefully we will be able to put a stop to this. The only way things are going to end is when we decide we’ve had enough and we’re going to do something about it. All in our own way. You’ve dedicated your life to doing something. I’m using my platform. Everybody in their own way needs to decide there’s something I can do to make this problem a little bit better. Then eventually we reach a critical mass where there’s a massive, massive change. We can’t just wait for God to do everything, but he is going to assist us if we’re doing our jobs.

Dr. Pamela Wible: It is my goal for Dr. J’s last dying wish to come true—he doesn’t want any other doctors to die by suicide. And that is my life’s mission.

Rabbi Weissman: Amen to that.

Dr.  Wible: 1027 signatures on Dr. J’s Physician Whistleblower Protection Petition. Thank you for being on the Dr. J Dream Team!

Rachel Neufeld: Hopefully Jay’s death won’t be in vain.

What will you do?

Janet Neufeld: I talk to as many people as I can and I just encourage everybody to talk. Let people know what is going on. We’re going to make it happen!

What else will you do?

Janet Neufeld: I want to pick up the phone and call my senator, call representatives, tell everybody. Tell your doctor, tell your colleagues, you love them.

What will you do?

Physician Resident: I can make a Tumblr account, have a running list of doctors lost to suicide. Things can go viral on Tumblr pretty fast.

What will you do?

Brad Van Korn:  Send a text to them and tell them what a great job they’re doing. That can actually save people. Just a simple text.

Read text that prevented a surgeon’s suicide.

What will you do?

Dr. Wolfer (physiatrist): I’m letting my PM&R colleagues know what happened to Jay. I have some powerful friends in places. This is unacceptable.

What will you do?

Dr. Rebecca Finn: Just horrible. Should never happen to anybody. I used to practice medicine. As a result of PHP I’m no longer practicing.

What will you do?

Massage Therapist: I’m now studying law to hold public officials accountable.

Dr. Robert Termanini: They tell us these programs are here to help, administration has our best interest at heart. That’s just not true. They go into these programs thinking that they’re going to get help. Instead they are stripped of their autonomy and dignity. When they try to speak out, they’re dismissed and discredited. It’s gaslighting on an institutional level.

What will you do?

Dr. Termanini: Create support systems outside these institutional structure, places where we can share our experiences without fear.

Janet Neufeld: Use your mouth. Don’t stop. Be like a broken record.

Rachel Neufeld: Thank you again for fighting for justice for Jay.

Dr. Wible: Come back and visit us. Keep going like the Energizer Bunny!

Janet Neufeld: Keep the ball rolling!


Rabbi Weissman: The only way things are going to end is when we decide we’ve had enough and we’re going to do something about it.

What will you do?

* * *

To join Dr. J’s Dream Team, contact Dr. Wible.

View podcast highlight reel (& transcript) plus Rabbi Weissman full interview.

Pamela Wible, M.D., is a suicidologist who runs a free doctor suicide helpline. She investigates doctor suicides and eulogizes victims to ensure their lives are celebrated. Dr. Wible performs psychological autopsies and provides postvention crisis support to prevent future suicides.

Don’t let his death be in vain.

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