Study: U.S. surgeons at higher suicide risk than public

BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhuanet) — One in 16 surgeons in the United States contemplate suicide, a rate higher than the general public, and they are less likely to seek help, according to a new study.

About 6 percent of the surgeons surveyed reported recent suicidal thoughts, while about 3 percent among the general population have suicidal thoughts, according to the study published in the January issue of Archives of Surgery.

These self-destructive thoughts may result from medical errors, job burnout and depression, Tait Shanafelt of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues said in a statement.

But only about one in four of those who reported thinking about taking their own lives sought psychiatric or psychologic help, said Shanafelt.

Fear of losing their jobs contributes to surgeons’ reluctance to get mental health treatment, making them less likely to seek help, according to the study involving nearly 8,000 surgeons.

Older surgeons were more likely to report suicidal thoughts. The researchers said surgeons 45 years old and older had 1.5 to three times the rate of suicidal ideation of the general population.

The findings come from a survey commissioned by the American College of Surgeons and conducted anonymously in 2008. All told, 7,905 doctors — or 31.7% of those surveyed — took part.

 

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