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Our physicians are burning out en masse. Will improved industry policies and assistive technology arrive in time to turn the tide?

Doctor Suicide

Physician suicide is estimated to be 400 annually, one of the highest rates among all professions. Advocates maintain that physician suicide is under- reported, hushed up, masked. Physician deaths from “accidental overdoses” may actually be suicide, since doctors are unlikely to overdose on medications.

If I wanted to work on an assembly line, I didn’t need to go to medical school. Nothing will change because we are completely expendable.

Physician comments

to “Physician Burnout Is a Public Health Crisis: A Message to Our Fellow Health Care CEOs,” in Health Affairs, 2017


40% of US physicians screened positive for depression. 7.2% had thoughts of killing themselves in the previous 12 months, compared with 4.0% for the general population. And doctors don’t just think about suicide more than the general public—they actually do it more. They’re better at suicide. Greater knowledge and access to lethal methods mean physician completion of suicide is higher than that of the general public, 1.4–2.3×. Female completion is even higher: 2.5–4× that of the general public.

400 / year

Estimated Doctor Suicides

  • American Doctors Are Killing Themselves and No One Is Talking About It

    The Daily Beast, March 2015

  • Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession

    The Wall Street Journal, May 2016

  • The Hidden Epidemic of Doctor Suicides

    Fast Company, February 2016

  • The Story Behind Epidemic Doctor Burnout and Suicide Statistics

    Forbes, January 2016

future of medicine doctor burnout

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