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April 20, 1984

Is Suicide a Special Occupational Hazard for Physicians?

Author Affiliations

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore

JAMA. 1984;251(15):1952-1953. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340390016012

To the Editor.—  The literature on physician suicide in the United States was reviewed to determine whether suicide is a special occupational hazard for physicians. Although several early studies suggested that the suicide rate in physicians was significantly higher than that of the general population,1 subsequent controlled studies failed to substantiate this contention with regard to male physicians,2 but female physicians were shown to have threefold to fourfold higher suicide rates than women in the general population.3 However, these trends in suicide are no different from those observed for other professional groups, and, therefore, the trends are not unique to physicians.Physicians commit suicide most frequently by drug overdose and poisoning and exhibit a marked distaste for firearms. In the general population and in other professional groups, firearms are most frequently used to commit suicide.4 However, based on the observations of suicide rates among pharmacists and