Suicide rates are highest in the medicine, as compared to any other profession, with double the suicide rate compared to members of
the general population. The statistics are more marked among female physicians (1). It is important to explore this phenomenon in
hopes of determining risk factors and targeting strategies to help reduce these alarming figures.
Several factors have been hypothesized to contribute to suicide among doctors. Included among these are mental illness, substance
abuse, toxic work culture and certain personality trains (2). It can be argued that there is a mentality that discourages conversations
about mental health, leading to self-medication and absence of help seeking. Studies have shown that 3 quarters of physicians who
completed suicide had no diagnosis or formal treatment before death (2). The stressful and demanding doctor lifestyle is also a
contributing factor. Certain personality traits such as perfectionism, self-criticism, obsessiveness, and achievement mindedness may
make this group vulnerable towards suicide. They may be less likely to ask for help if they are struggling due to these factors. Another
related factor may be mental illness stigmatization.
At this point, there is still a huge stigma. It has been hypothesized that physician suicides are actually higher than reported, as stigma
may warrant death to be recorded as something other than suicide (3). Efforts should be aimed at reducing the stigma of mental health
in the medical profession, implementing programs to reduce physician stress, as well as an awareness of risk factors in ourselves and