Doctors have the highest suicide rate of any profession, as most sources will report. In psychiatry for example there are 3 major obstacles to be aware of, that can affect both the patient and the psychiatrist;
1- Drawing a line between treating and empathizing with others and actually carrying the burden of the patient by over sympathizing and attaching. Many doctors have a difficult time separating their life from the lives of the patients they treat. This has proven to be a factor in the suicide rate of doctors in general. The profession alone has the highest suicide rate of all professions, Depression, then can come aboard and eventually it has led to the death of 400 doctors per year, by suicide. There are other factors that can also lead to depression however this seems to be the most prevalent.
2- Stigma/ Consequences attached to self reporting or seeking treatment. Who wants to go see a depressed doctor? The possibilities and scenarios are endless, but sadly there are few if any ways to get the help needed and maintain a level of confidentiality. This, in and of itself has proven to be a major player – untreated mental illness in the field.
3- The knowledge and resources needed to carry out the act of suicide. Suicide is 2nd only to accidents in deaths of physicians. Many times when the option is readily available, the chances of follow through go up. Although hand guns have been used in many deaths, many other methods have also been used by doctors who are well aware what it would take to end their life by chemical ingestion of some type.
It seems we have a weak link in the chain of providers, as these professionals are not really allowed ( professionally ) to have depression, or suffer from a mental illness. Any resources for physicians who need confidential care themselves should be available for them.
Never forget the wounded healer…