Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention

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Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people and is extremely high for physicians. Suicide doesn’t have to be a death sentence it is preventable. Below is an article by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

In October 2002, AFSP sponsored a workshop to address the disproportionately high rates of suicide among physicians and physicians in training. Studies in the last 40 years have confirmed that physicians die by suicide more frequently than others of their gender and age in both the general population and other professional occupations. On the average, death by suicide is about 70 percent more likely among male physicians in the United States than among other professionals, and 250 percent to 400 percent higher among female physicians. Unlike almost all other population groups in which men die by suicide about four times more frequently than women, among physicians the suicide rate is very similar for both men and women.

This initial workshop brought together experts from a variety of different fields to discuss the many factors that appear to contribute to physician suicide, especially the frequent failure of physicians to recognize depression in themselves (and also in their patients and colleagues). Workshop discussions also focused on institutional barriers that interfere with physicians seeking help when they are aware they are depressed. In some states, the mere fact that a physician is in psychiatric treatment can trigger an intrusive investigation by a state licensing board that can lead to sanctioning regardless of whether there is any evidence of impaired functioning. Within some hospitals and medical centers, appropriate concerns about protecting patients from impaired physicians have inadvertently created a climate that leads depressed physicians to be concerned for their academic and career prospects if they seek the treatment that might prevent impairment from developing.

Following the AFSP workshop, a consensus statement was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that included recommendations for needed changes in professional attitudes and institutional policies to encourage physicians with mental health problems to seek help.

AFSP subsequently played a leadership role in organizing working groups of experts from major healthcare organizations and medical institutions to further develop recommendations in eight key areas: medical student and resident education, medical student and resident health, hospital policies toward physicians with depression and other mental disorders, policies related to licensing of physicians, policies related to physician malpractice and disability insurance, and needed research on physician depression and suicide. In July 2005, AFSP and the Milbank Memorial Fund cosponsored a meeting of these expert groups to share the results of their work and develop actions plans for implementing each group’s recommendations. Results of this meeting were reported in the American Medical Association’s Medical News.

The initial workshop for this project was supported by the Bob and Lynn Bernard Charitable Fund of the Ayco Charitable Foundation.
AFSP is currently working on two new projects aimed at reducing the high suicide mortality rate among physicians:

Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention Film Project

Wyeth and the American College of Psychiatrists have joined AFSP in funding a one-hour documentary film as part of an educational campaign to heighten awareness about physician depression and suicide. The FREDDIE award-winning documentary, Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide, premiered on KCET-TV of Los Angeles in the spring of 2008, and has aired on over 300 PBS stations nationwide. The campaign includes educational films and a website,

A companion film targeted to medical school students, Out of the Silence: Medical Student Depression and Suicide, is being disseminated by AFSP to medical schools across the country, and third film has been created for use in hospitals, residency trainings and at educational conferences and seminars. Both these films include resource materials. The films were produced by the Academy Award®-winning State of the Art Inc.

Through this campaign, AFSP seeks to educate physicians about depression so that they can better recognize the symptoms in themselves and their patients while also cultivating a better understanding of mood disorders in the community at large.

Media coverage of this campaign has been extensive, with more 15 million impressions to date, and an article in Newsweek magazine. More>

Outreach to Medical Students, Residents and Physicians at Risk for Suicide

A pilot project is underway to extend the outreach methods developed through the College Screening Project to medical students, residents and hospital physicians. The goals of this project are to identify individuals with serious depression and other problems that put them at risk for suicidal behavior, and encourage them to get treatment. It is hoped that the anonymous online “dialogues” with a clinician that the screening method allows will prove effective in helping medical students and physicians resolve concerns about treatment that are currently preventing many from seeking help. An initial participant in the pilot project is the University of Pittsburgh. It is anticipated that four more institutions will join the project as additional funds are obtained


Does Your Neck Really Matter?

soreneckAccording to a report released back in 1993, the total costs for motor vehicle accidents in the US were $333 billion in 1988. WHO states “On average in the industrialized countries, and also in many developing countries, one hospital bed in ten is occupied by an accident victim.”

 Traffic accidents are a major cause of severe injuries in most countries. Studies involving live humans have demonstrate that a motor vehicle accident of as little as 5 mph can induce cervical (neck) injury. However, other studies show cars can often withstand crashes of 10 mph or more without sustaining damage. Explanation? A vehicle is solid a human is not. A good comparison would be to drop an apple and a metal toy car from a flight of stairs. Will the metal car have bruises or go bad because of this experience?

Many studies have found a significant number of individuals to be symptomatic for many months and even years after a motor vehicle accident. In one such study, 75 percent of individuals remained symptomatic 6 months after the accident. If you have pain after 3 months there is a 78% chance of still having pain after two years. Another study shows when disabling levels of pain are still present after one month there is an almost 100% chance this pain will be present at six months. Another study, published in the European Spine Journal, found that during the period of time between the first and second years following a motor vehicle accident over 20 percent of individuals had  symptoms worsen.

In parts of Canada, individuals who could suffer a life time of pain with whiplash grade two are allowed less than 3000 dollars to cover the costs of the injury over a lifetime! Is this justice?

According to the National Safety Council (NSA), there are more than 12 million motor vehicle accidents annually including more than 20 million vehicles. This results in over 5 million non fatal accidents annually of which approximately 2 million are disabling injuries including approximately 1 million work-related auto disabling injuries. A 1990 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study reported  28 percent of occupants in motor vehicle accidents incur minor to moderate injury while 6 percent incur severe to fatal injuries. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for individuals under 34 years of age according to NHSA
 Forensic Epidemiologist states in an interview with Anderson Cooper ” You’re eventually being judged by what your car looks like, not by what your doctor says. Or by what the impact of a particular crash has had or an injury has had on your life. That’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s fraud “(cited in Anderson 360 click here and scroll to insurance surprises)

The US Department of Transportation estimates that the typical driver will have a near automobile accident one to two times per month and all will be in a collision of some type on average of every 6 years.

Industry insiders say 80 to 90 percent of accident victims don’t fight. They take what the insurance company offers. A

In an 18-month investigation across the country, CNN found that if you are injured in a minor accident, chances are high the two companies would challenge your medical claim, offering you barely a fraction of your expenses.  They would do it by forcing people into court, dragging out court cases for years and by convincing the public it was all designed to fight growing fraud in the car accident business. The three Ds Delay, Deny, Defend are the fingers pointing back to insurance company rhetoric.

According to Nevada Insurance Law Professor, Jeff Stempel, the new get tough strategy is adding up to billions in profit for the insurance companies and little, if anything, for the public. We can see that policyholders individually are getting hurt by being dragged into court on fender bender claims. And yet we don’t see collateral benefit in the form of reduced premiums, even for the other policyholders. So, I think now we can say to continue this kind of program is, in my view, institutionalized bad faith.

For an interesting look at what both sides are saying click here  and scroll quite a ways down. Here is an  older but still informative picture of international safety and fatality statistics

Technorati Profile

Wheel Chair No Limits

I recently enjoyed a great flight with a group called Paralysed Veterans of America. People of all shapes, sizes and conditions along with dedicated physicians and carers formed a mighty team. These men were on their way to Aspen to ski and they were fun to be with. Even with missing legs,arms, spine injury, blindness, deafness or brain injury their zest for life and care for others was an example of power and unity at work.

The conversation was full of hope for new treatments, medications, regenerative medicine and ways to improve life for their fellow man. They do research,create equipment to make life easier, and help others navigate paperwork so families can put their lives back together

As we talked I learned they do more than ski and race cars. They have lobbied congress on behalf of all of us who are disabled so we are able to use commercial transportation, be treated with courtesy and receive the assistance to get from one location to another. Getting the luggage and extra equipment a disability brings from the customs hall to the next flight, or negotiating airplane steps can appreciate the complications well timed assistance can bring.If you encounter problems travelling with a disability this site can show you what to do They mentor the newcomers on the way out of the old life before the trauma into a destiny where life is not over or lessened it is just different. I heard no useless platitudes like “Get over it, others are worse off” but rather things like “Buddy have you tried this?” or “It will get better, I will go with you”.

I was empowered by the raw courage in the face of obstacles others had deemed impossible and their group willingness to give life another chance. Most of these men face daily pain, memories they can not lose and disability yet their indomitable spirits did not quit and they helped each other.

I saw courage and dignity more clearly than in a military parade or in troops ready for action…these men showed us how to live after the party is over and they did it well.

To find out more about them or to donate to make these kind of trips possible see this link I like to remember that their gift of service and the price they paid allows me to walk in freedom. Life is all about giving back to the foundation. When each of us does our part the foundation will be there for us and those who come after us

Increase Teen Driver Skill

Corvette For Your Teen

Corvette For Your Teen

Are you concerned with your teen driving a car? This concern is likely valid as teens have the highest injury and mortality rates and crashes are the leading cause of accidental death, disability and head injuries for this age group. USA today in an article last week quoted research which shows that teens with attention problems are five times as likely to get in an accident as the rest of the population.

There is equipment that can test your teen’s attention levels and improve their ability to resist distraction and stay on task. One of the programs used simulates road conditions to improve reaction time with practice before your teen gets on the road. Other programs help teens recognize their attention levels and teach them to self correct so they do not ‘space out’

They will not learn these skills in driver ed. This is a great way to equip the young driver in your household or restore skills to older drivers who see themselves as losing focus. Information about safe cars, saving your neck and how to adjust the headrest are available for free through the courtesy of the Save Your Neck Program .

For more information on programs to help driving skills an a free 39 point learning assessment you can take online click here