It’s been called the silent epidemic: Each year, an estimated 400 physicians in the U.S. die by suicide.
To raise awareness about the issue, a group of physicians organized a national Day of Solidarity on Care2, a social networking site that connects activists. It will be held Saturday in 11 cities, including the District of Columbia, Philadelphia, Austin and Chicago, according to the post, and the group expects 1,000 people to attend nationwide. Doctors, medical students, therapists, professors, activists and family members of those who have lost their lives to suicide will speak at the events.
Ashley Maltz, M.D., an integrative medicine physician, and Pamela Wible, M.D., author of "Physician Suicide Letters--Answered," also started a petition on the website, which has gathered over 66,000 signatures. It urges the Association of American Medical Colleges and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to take action to prevent medical student and resident suicides.
“I have been shocked and saddened by the lack of support medical students and physicians face when encountering troubling times in their lives,” Maltz, who is also the Austin event, said in the announcement. Maltz said she has provided care to suicidal and depressed healthcare workers and lost a medical school classmate to suicide.
The issue of physician suicides is coming to light as the healthcare industry develops programs to provide doctors with the help they need. However the stigma surrounding mental illness continues to hamper efforts to provide help.