NEW YORK, March 4, 2022 -- One in 10 U.S. physicians have thought about or attempted suicide, but only about one-third have sought professional help, according to the results of a new report from Medscape.
A Tragedy of the Profession: Medscape Physician Suicide Report 2022, released today, comes amid efforts to address an issue that has been building for years, exacerbated by the stress and burnout of the Covid-19 pandemic, and worsened by physicians' fears of disclosure to licensing or credentialing boards or loss of their standing within the medical community.
Click here for the full report.
The release of the Medscape report follows recent Congressional approval of the Lorna Breen Healthcare Provider Protection Act, named after the emergency room physician who died by suicide in April 2020, and growing awareness of the impact of mental health stigma within the medical profession.
In this year's report, an average 7.2% of physicians (11% women, 9% men) reported suicidal ideation, which is higher than for the general U.S. population (4%), and more than one in five said they experience depression. Only about one-third of physicians said they sought help from a therapist, regardless of age, although the percentage of physicians who sought no help at all (either telling a friend, family member, therapist, suicide hot line) decreased by generation. About one-third of Millennials told no one, compared with 44% of Boomers.
Additionally, Millennials were more likely to say that medical schools and health care organizations should be held responsible if a physician dies by suicide (31%) as compared with only 19% of GenXrs and 12% of Boomers.
"As the mental health toll of the pandemic continues to emerge, and stigma in general is lessening, our report shows that it is still a significant issue within the medical profession,'' said Leslie Kane, MA, senior director, Medscape Business of Medicine. "Physicians deserve the same recognition and understanding, and the ability to seek the care they need without fear of repercussion. It is incredibly sad that a tragedy needed to occur to spur action, but it is a much-needed step in the right direction."
Medscape Survey Methods
The 2022 Medscape Physician Suicide Report was completed by 13,069 U.S. physicians representing more than 29 specialty areas. Respondents were invited to respond to the online survey. The margin of error for the survey was +/- 0.85% at a 95% confidence level.
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