I had a call today asking me to repost this once again in order to shine a light on Physician Suicide. So, please, give it another read and share it if you feel that it is worth it. Thank you.
I have seen some other posts here on WordPress on the same subject that I am going to address here: Physicians who commit suicide. The story that I am posting here is a sad story. Just one of many. It is not only Physicians, it is many people in the medical field working in direct patient care. I was a nurse for many, I mean many, years of my life and I watched as some of my colleagues and friends became alcoholics, drug addicts, depressed and suicidal. Some did take their lives. One of the problems is that if one does seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist, the employer will know. If it is suggested that an antidepressant may be the answer, that would mean the end of a career.
It is difficult to imagine how demanding the clinical work with each rotation is. It is not easy passing all the tests before starting the clinical side, but once that part of the training begins, it is an entirely different world. At the time that I was in training at USC to become a Physician Assistant, there were still 36 hour shifts. With the many things to learn and sleep deprived while doing them, is enough to depress anyone. I found that my time in the Emergency Room there to be one of the most educational and most difficult. There was no down time. When graduation day, the entire course has been completed and with license and certificate in hand, it is time for the real world. The greatest part of that is the pay. The years of living and scrimping through school are finished. The reality is that the license holds you to a higher level of responsibility whether as a Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, or Physician. The everyday worries of being sued, losing a hard-earned license, or, the worst, losing a patient, all can be overwhelming.
When I began my P.A. Program at USC, I was excited to be away from nursing. It was my desire to gain all the knowledge that a physician had. Knowing that I would be learning beside the medical students felt good. I was fresh-faced and feeling proud. We were each given a ‘mentor’ of sorts to help us make it through the first few weeks. The mentors were in their final year and were getting ready to go out into the big wide real world. My mentor was a young, beautiful blonde, blue-eyed girl with the world in the palm of her hands. I say that she was young because I was in my late forties when I returned to school, so I mean much younger than me. She was funny and witty and amazingly helpful. One day I was told by one of my professors that she had died the night before. My heart stopped, I held my breath and I asked what happened. I was told that she was driving home, stopped at a stop sign, picked up the gun she had lying in the seat beside her and shot herself in the head. There was a doctor from the USC University Hospital directly behind her and witnessed the whole thing. Why? Why? Why? I went to the funeral and there were beautiful flowers, someone had released a thousand butterflies into the lovely spring day. And she was dead.
Please read this article by Dr. Wible: http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/blog/doctors-death-an-inconvenience-for-patients/