Study finds link between job stress and suicide among doctors

November 14, 2012

Ann Arbor, MI – Job stress and untreated mental health problems contribute to suicide among physicians, finds a new study from the University of Michigan.

Using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, researchers compared mental health variables, stressors and methods among physicians and non-physicians who committed suicide. They found a link between physician suicide and having a known mental health disorder or job problem. Doctors also were more likely to have prescription drugs (but not antidepressants) in their system, according to the study abstract.

For doctors, a job problem was more likely to contribute to suicide than a family death or crisis, which researchers said suggests that physicians' identity is strongly tied to their job role, making them more vulnerable to trouble at work, a U-M press release stated.

Noting that doctors appear to not be receiving adequate mental health treatment, researchers recommended making that treatment more available, safe and confidential for physicians.

The study was published online Nov. 5 in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.