DOCTORS’ SUICIDE RATE RISES FURTHER ABOVE POPULATION AVERAGE

By: Logan Zelk, Reporter

In the year of 2013, there were a total of 41,149 victims of suicide; one person commits suicide every thirteen minutes. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Americans, and medical doctors are no exception. In fact, the alarming rate of suicide seen in the general public is lower than doctors’, with doctors being almost twice as likely to commit suicide than non-medical individuals.

Concerns lead to questions, and some people in policy and the general public worry about this heightening suicide rate that seems to be rising everywhere, especially in doctors. Some researchers wonder if the environment in which doctors work is the source of the trauma.

Seminole Health Academy senior Norma Davis says, “Doctors have it rough; most work long hours and don’t even see a substantial paycheck till way into their career. It’s daunting work.”

Dr. Pranay Sinha explains in a New York Times article  that he feels it is the stress, whether it is the stress to be entirely well rounded and or the stress from being both extremely overworked and under debt, that causes this deterioration amongst doctors. This expected “Superman” ability is exponentially advanced by graduation, and Sinha warns that it causes devastating effects.

Sinha says, “But as soon as that M.D. is appended to our names in May, our self-expectations skyrocket […] within a month of graduation, without any additional training or practice, we are required to have a comprehensive understanding of up to 10 patients on any given day.”

Junior Julie Sparks says, “Most students, I feel, can have an idea of what the stress is like — no sleep, long work hours, the loneliness that can stem from it. I couldn’t imagine it for another ten years and with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt on the line. I respect it, and it’s tough.”

Julie and Sinha are not wrong. According to this study, less than half of doctors, if  able to start over, would choose another medical career. Also mentioned in the study is that more than 79% of doctors had a debt above $100,000. Sinha remarks that it is not uncommon for doctors to work an average of 54 hours a week with 23% of it on paperwork.

Sophomore Crisal Hidalgo says, “I’m not sure what I want to do for a career, but I do know that for most people simply ten grand worth in debt would cripple them. It’s a scary prospect to take on.”

Doctors aren’t the only career with rising suicide rates as well. Suicide rates for the entire country have soared, in careers ranging from dentistry to the military. More people died from suicide than from combat in the Afghanistan war. Other reasons speculated include a low cultural understanding for mental health and lack of mental health resources for Americans.

For those with suicidal thoughts and wish to seek help, the National Suicide Hotline can be reached at 1 (800) 273-8255.