Performing surgery is a very stressful occupation. Close to 8,000 doctors were surveyed and 501 reported thoughts of suicide during the previous year. However fears of admitting having an issue affecting their practices, doctors often self-prescribe medications or confide in colleagues for assistance off the record. Those that don’t see help have easy access to medications and method of killing themselves due to their rank.

Eighty percent of state medical boards inquire about mental illness on initial licensure applications and 47 percent do so on renewal applications. However, many focus not on whether a mental health condition is present but whether it is an impairment.

The formers of this study which is published in January edition of Archives of Surgery, a JAMA publications state:

“Although suicide is strongly linked to depression, the lifetime risk of depression among physicians is similar to that of the general U.S. population. This observation suggests that other factors may contribute to the increased risk of suicide among physicians. Access to lethal medications and knowledge of how to use them has been suggested as one factor; however, the influence of professional characteristics and forms of distress other than depression (e.g., burnout) are largely unexplored.”

With surgeons, your lives are in their hands literally. A small error can prove fatal. They are always under stress thanks to the ever increasing number of people suffering from various ailments. Burnout consists of three major factors: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low personal accomplishment.

Doctors aged 45 and older had 1.5 to three times the rate of suicidal ideation of the general population. Being married and having children lowers the likelihood of suicidal thoughts, and the risk was higher among those who had been divorced.

The anonymous survey from 2008 included questions regarding suicidal ideation the use of mental health resources, a depression screening tool and assessments of burnout and quality of life.

The authors continue:

“The perception of having made a major medical error in the previous three months was associated with a three-fold increased risk of suicidal ideation, with 16.2 percent of surgeons who reported a recent major error experiencing suicidal ideation compared with 5.4 percent of surgeons not reporting an error. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the unique factors that contribute to the higher rate of suicidal ideation among surgeons in conjunction with efforts to reduce surgeons’ distress and eliminate barriers that lead to underuse of mental health resources.”

People working in medical professions have the most stressful job with 96.8 percent saying caring for others is rewarding but traumatic on the same hand.

Engineers, Sales and Marketing professionals and Teachers also have demanding roles, and 37 percent of folk find it difficult to meet deadlines, while 31 percent stress about taking on other people’s work. A disgruntled 28 per cent say they lack job satisfaction, and would prefer to work elsewhere.

Source: JAMA

Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.