Attaching a Face to Physician Suicide

I’ve written time and again about physician suicide, and the widespread burnout for which it is the ultimate last step. To my amazement, many of my colleagues don’t seem to understand why I feel so passionately and write so voluminously on this topic. Apparently, they feel that they can lay claim to being “customer centric” while being totally out of touch with the fact that many of their customers are busy killing themselves.

In fairness, my posts on this topic up to this point have been about numbers. About the fact that physicians as a profession commit suicide far more frequently than do other professionals. Or the public at large for that matter. There have been no faces. But now there are.

Like Dr. Benjamin Shaffer. Pictured above. A successful Orthopedic surgeon. Washington, DC. Gregarious. Apparently happy as hell. Dead by his own hand.

Or look at the doctors participating in this eulogy for 10,000 doctors who have committed suicide. At the site where a young doctor jumped to her death from the roof of her apartment building. Faces. Haunting faces.

Bottom Line. Take a few minutes of your valuable time and watch the video. It is much more powerful than just reading the transcript. And while you watch the video, please ponder whether it is FINALLY time to raise our colleagues’/companies’/clients’ consciousness about physician burnout and suicide. And maybe, just maybe, think creatively about something, some little thing, that we could do to help.


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