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Mayo Clinic Joins Efforts to Prevent Physician Suicide

News  |  By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   December 09, 2016

Researchers from Mayo have teamed up with the ACGME and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to provide resources for medical professionals, who are often afraid to seek help.

Three prominent healthcare organizations are joining forces to prevent suicide among physicians and medical trainees.

Mayo Clinic, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) introduced a library of educational resources, which are available on the ACGME website.

Instead of Denying Emotions, Physicians Can Learn from Them

Physicians have higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population, but are less likely to seek mental health treatment because they fear stigma and sanctions, according to the AFSP.

An estimated 300 physicians die by suicide in the United States each year. In addition, 28% of residents experience a major depressive episode during training, versus 7% to 8% of similarly aged individuals in the U.S. general population. Twenty-three percent of interns had suicidal thoughts, according to the AFSP.

The new suicide-prevention resources include a four-minute video that advises medical students, residents, and fellows on how to support each other, express concern to peers, and encourage help-seeking behavior.

What Physicians Can Do to Prevent Suicide

A guide to help graduate training programs respond to a resident suicide, access to support, and other information is also available. The three organizations will add more resources to the library, they stated.

"We want to be part of a national dialogue that addresses physician well-being and leads to transformational change—to a more humane learning environment for all medical education and a healthier culture for all physicians," Thomas J. Nasca, MD, MACP, CEO of the ACGME, said in a statement.

Physician Burnout
Mayo researchers are also studying other aspects of physician well-being. They have been documenting the rise in physician burnout and its commensurate costs for more than a decade.

Researchers proposed nine strategies healthcare organizations can use to slow or reverse the incidence of physician burnout. They were published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings:

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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