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Know the signs and risk factors for physician suicide

Physicians are at a higher risk of suicide and suicidal ideation than the general population, says the American Medical Association. Suicidal ideation has been associated with high workload volume  and medical errors. Although previous research linked physician burnout to depression and suicide, a recent investigation suggests that burnout and depression are separate experiences, with distinct consequences for physicians and their patients. Physicians who experience suicidal ideation have been shown to be less likely to seek the help they need.

Take steps to prevent physician suicide

Download the report for tips to address physician distress, the well-being of colleagues and the risk of suicidal ideation.

Factors associated with suicide among physicians include:
  • Depression
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Substance-use disorder
  • Impaired relationships
  • Self-destructive tendency

Understanding the incidence of suicide among physicians, residents and medical students will help inform the AMA’s continued efforts to promote access to mental healthcare, improve physician professional satisfaction and well-being and reduce suicide risk for our nation’s healthcare workforce.

Taking proactive steps to identify and address physician distress can help to ensure the well-being of colleagues and reduce the risk of suicidal ideation. Additionally, it is imperative that physicians recognize the importance of self-care, model wellness behaviors and encourage others to do the same.

Organizations should also note the importance of creating a supportive atmosphere in the workplace, which can be instrumental in addressing physician distress. Physician advocates can be valuable assets to an organization by providing support services to those in need of help.

Additionally, referral lists for confidential resources inside and outside of the organization should be updated regularly and available to all team members, including physicians.

The AMA has joined a coalition of leading healthcare organizations for the All In: WellBeing First for Healthcare campaign. The campaign was founded in 2020 by #FirstRespondersFirst and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation to support and protect the well-being of the healthcare workforce.

In an episode of the AMA’s Moving Medicine video series, J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA, and Jennifer Feist, JD, founders of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, discuss physician suicide and ways to reduce burnout of healthcare professionals and safeguard their well-being.

Preventing Physician Suicide: Identify and Support At-Risk Physicians









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