Initiative aims to prevent physician suicides

A new initiative seeks to reduce the number of suicides by physicians and medical trainees.

Three health organizations have launched an initiative they hope will reduce the number of suicides by physicians and medical trainees.

The effort, organized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Mayo Clinic, attempts to address the problem of suicide and depression in the medical field.

The new campaign aims to reach those doctors and medical trainees who are risk with resources that emphasize the importance of peer support. "We want to be part of a national dialogue that addresses physician well-being and leads to transformational change—to a more humane learning environment for all medical education and a healthier culture for all physicians," Thomas J. Nasca, M.D., CEO of the ACGME, said in an announcement.

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It’s been called the silent epidemic, as each year, an estimated 400 physicians in the U.S. die by suicide.

The resources were unveiled as part of the ACGME’s Second Annual Symposium on Physician Well-Being. They include a video that advises medical students, residents and fellows on how to support their colleagues, express concern to peers and encourage help-seeking behaviors (below).

There's also a guide for how training programs should respond if a resident dies by suicide and information and access to support.

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 prevention efforts.

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