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June 5, 1987

Preventing Physician Suicide

JAMA. 1987;257(21):2955-2956. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390210103035

Physicians are good at taking care of other people, but often we are not very good at taking care of ourselves or each other. We are vulnerable to all of the ills that affect our patients, including suicide. But, even more than our suicidal patients, when we are seriously troubled we tend to deny our vulnerability, delay seeking help, and resist the need for psychiatric hospitalization.1 A collaborative study of physician suicide by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has found ways to overcome these and other impediments to rational care for troubled physicians. The preliminary findings of the study are reported in this issue of The Journal.2 The study had a long gestation.

As John Donne pointed out long ago, any man's death diminishes us. But a physician's death by his own hand is peculiarly painful. To colleagues, patients, and the wider