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April 17, 1981

Suicide by Physicians on Probation-Reply

Author Affiliations

Portland, Ore

JAMA. 1981;245(15):1527. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310400012010

In Reply.—  The source of Dr Murphy's dismay with our COMMENTARY is only partially understandable. He attacks the use of figures as though they were used as statistics, which they were not. We did not attempt in any way to base statistical conclusions on our small sample, but used the extension, "if it could be extrapolated," which of course it cannot be, to underline the shock this epidemic had on the Board of Medical Examiners. They saw it as every fifth man they placed on probation killed himself.Dr Murphy is looking for a great deal more than we are prepared to give him when he asks what is unique about this group of physicians who committed suicide, "apart from their circumstances of probation?" That is the point. These men were exposed to special stress that aggravated their condition. At the time probation left a man in a limbo of