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December 1973

Physicians Who Kill Themselves

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
From the Community Hospital of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, Calif (Dr. Rose), and the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, San Francisco (Dr. Rosow).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(6):800-805. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200060072011

Previous research suggests that physicians are no more prone to suicide than people in general, but most studies suffer from major methodological problems. We reviewed death certificates in California from 1959 to 1961 and found that physicians, and health care workers as a group, are twice as suicide prone as the general population. Among physicians, divorce and old age are associated with the highest suicide rates, but physicians seem to be more sensitive to these factors than the general population. Sex, race, and specialty area—such as psychiatry—appear to have no effect on suicide rates; however, more data are needed to clarify this point. Drugs are the most common method of suicide. Physicians should recognize the existence of this problem and be more sensitive to a colleague's "cry for help."

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