Doctors urge more understanding and action to combat physician suicide

Australian Medical Association

The AMA’s journal—the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)—has published ‘100 years of physician suicide: a call for action‘ from three executive members of the AMA Queensland Committee of Doctors in Training.

Dr Natasha Abeysekera, Dr Rachele Quested and Dr Robert Nayer write on the worrying incidences of physician suicide and the urgent need for change.

While both male and female physicians are dying by suicide at a higher rate than the general population, female physicians are committing suicide at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

The authors observe that the culture in medicine leads to “complex professional and personal demands placed upon female physicians (which) have been thought to be a driving factor in increasing their risk of burnout, depression and suicide”.

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training and the Australian Medical Students’ Association last month released a traffic lights flyer which lists support services available and recommends which to access depending on the level of stress experienced.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland Council of Doctors-in-Training propose a Queensland Health and Hospital Health Services symposium to hear from experts in the field and to compile a list of actionable items to instigate changes in medical culture.

The article authors argue “status quo is literally killing us. Change was needed years ago, refusing to work towards that change now is inexcusable”.

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