JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
Incited by a cable dispatch from London announcing a great increase
of suicides among physicians in Great Britain, the Chicago Tribune reviews the records for the United States, and finds for the
past twelve and one-half years that a total of 519 physicians have committed
self-murder. The average annual number is about 41, which has been exceeded
six times in twelve years. The smallest number was 23, in 1891, while the
largest was 53, in 1893, a time, by the way, of great financial depression.
A record for the first six months of 1903 indicates that the present year
will probably be up to the average. The above figures, while not indicating
such an increase as is reported from abroad, are sufficiently formidable as
they are; they far exceed the average ratio of suicides in the general population,
in this country at least, and are suggestive in many ways. In Great Britain
the cause of the increase is attributed largely to depreciation of income.
They suffer there from overcrowding of the profession, competition with quacks
and the exploitation of the medical profession by workingmen's clubs, which
has become a standing theme in our English contemporaries. In this country
we have the trouble of overcrowding to even a greater extent, for here we
have twice the number of physicians in proportion to the population as in
Great Britain. Moreover, the world is getting healthier, and this healthfulness,
again, is largely due to the labors of physicians, who are the only ones that
work against their own interests continuously. Mainly through their efforts
morbidity is greatly decreased and the professional income of the physician
is also diminished.
THE STRIKE FEVER. JAMA. 2003;290(3):414. doi:10.1001/jama.290.3.414-a
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