Toward Preventing Physician Suicide: Incorporating the Insights of Those They Leave Behind

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Michael Myers, MD

Date and time: 23 Mar 2019 from 09:00 to 10:00

Location: Wildrose Salon C  Floor Map


  1. Discuss the biopsychosocial risk factors for mental illness and suicide in physicians;
  2. Grasp how stigma works against recognition of illness in physicians and their caregivers; and
  3. List the systemic, institutional, intercollegial, familial and individual changes that must occur to stop physicians from killing themselves.

Literature References

    1. Myers MF. Why Physicians Die by Suicide: Lessons Learned From Their Families and Others Who Cared. Michael F Myers. Amazon CreateSpace. NY. 2017
    2. Yellowlees P. Physician Suicide: Cases and Commentaries. American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC 2018
    3. Myers MF, Gabbard GO. The Physician As Patient: A Clinical Handbook for Mental Health Professionals. American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC 2008
    4. Myers MF. Suicidal behaviors in physicians. In Brower K and Riba M Physician Mental Health and Well-Being: Research and Practice. Springer. New York 2017


Physicians take their own lives when many diverse and overwhelming forces come together all at once—a tragic and horrific perfect storm of biopsychosocial factors. The backdrop is stigma, a force that is pernicious in the house of medicine. In this presentation, I will update the attendees about what we know and don’t know about the multiple dynamics that drive physicians to take this desperate and irreversible action. I will also discuss unpublished findings from my international qualitative research project interviewing survivors of suicide loss: physician families, colleagues, friends, employers, students, professors, training directors, therapists and patients. Many of these individuals have joined forces with physician health professionals to make a difference and to save lives. They want to ensure that all ailing physicians have the support of their colleagues, including access to state-of-the-art mental health care.

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