Physician Suicide Rate Surpasses That of General Population

By Steve Barrett
Friday, January 18, 2019

Physicians commit suicide at more than twice the rate of the general population — 28-40 per 100,000 versus about 12 per 100,000 — according to research presented at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association and reported in Medscape Medical News.

The study, which reviewed research in journals from the preceding decade, also revealed that the suicide rate is greater for physicians than for members of any other profession — including service members.

Suicide may be higher among physicians than among other groups in part because of their access to and higher awareness of lethal substances, the research suggests. The study found poisoning was among the most frequent means of physician suicide.

One of the researchers, Deepika Tanwar, MD, who works in the psychiatric program at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, said it was noteworthy that physician suicides surpass even those among service members, given the high levels of stress associated with military service, Medscape Medical News reports.

Female physicians were markedly less likely to attempt suicide than women overall. However, rates of completed suicide were 2.5 to four times greater among female physicians than among the general population. Suicide rates between male and female physicians were equal.