Death by suicide among Canadian medical students: A national survey-based study
Zivanovic, R., McMillan, J., Lovato, C. & Roston, C.
Objective: To estimate a rate of death by suicide in the Canadian medical student population and examine the prevalence of institutional response policies for suicide. Methods: A survey was sent to all 17 Canadian medical undergraduate programs (MDUPs) to collect information on deaths by suicide over the past 10 years. In the case of a reported suicide, basic demographic data was collected. Respondents were asked to indicate whether internal statistics or response policies for suicide existed at their MDUP. Results: Responses were obtained from 16 of 17 (94%) MDUPs. Six suicides (50% female) were reported over the ten-year period from 2006 to 2016. The estimated cause-specific mortality rate was 5.9-8.7/100,000 medical students/year. There were seven (44%) MDUPs that kept statistics on student deaths including suicides and 10 (63%) reported having policies or guidelines regarding what to do in the event of a suicide. Conclusions: Our estimated suicide rate falls within previously reported rates in medical students. While this may be lower than the national rate for Canadians between the ages of 20-30 years old, any suicide in the medical student community must be an impetus for national dialogue and further study. A strategy is needed to better define the prevalence, risk factors for and impact of medical student suicide in Canada.