Doctors urge more understanding and action to combat physician suicide

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 completing 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”.

If this article has raised issues for you, please reach out to any of the following resources:

DRS4DRS 1300 374 377
New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory 02 9437 6552
Victoria 03 9280 8712
Tasmania 1800 991 997
Queensland 07 3833 4352
Western Australia 08 9321 3098
South Australia and Northern Territory  08 8366 0250
AMA Peer Support Line 1300 853 338 or 1800 991 997

Hand-n-Hand Peer Support

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Please seek out help from one of the below contacts:

Lifeline| 13 11 14 | 24-hour Australian crisis counselling service

Suicide Call Back Service| 1300 659 467 | 24-hour Australian counselling service

Beyondblue| 1300 22 4636 | 24-hour phone support and online chat service and links to resources and apps

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