Year: 2021 Source: Journal of Psychiatric Research. (2020). 134, 158-165 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.12.064 SIEC No: 20210113

Reports of incidence of physician suicide in the United States (US) are outdated. The aims of this research were to assess incidence, methods, and associated risk factors of physicians compared to non-physicians in the general US population. Retrospective suicide data (victim age 25 and over) from the 2012-2016 National Violent Death Reporting System were analyzed to test for differences in rates, methods, and risk factors of male and female physicians to non-physicians. The dataset included 498 physician suicides (403 males and 95 females) and 74,420 non-physicians (57,188 males and 17,232 females). No significant difference was found in suicide incidence between gender and age-adjusted physicians vs. non-physicians, though the female physician rate of suicide appeared higher than female non-physicians. The male to female physician ratio of suicide was about 2:1, whereas the ratio in non-physicians was closer to 4:1. Female physicians used poisoning and hanging most often as a method of suicide, where males used firearms. Depressed mood (as perceived by self or others), mental health problems (defined by a diagnosis of depression, a prescribed antidepressants or toxicology report of antidepressants), poor general medical health, and work-related stressors were more frequently associated with physician than with non-physician suicides. In conclusion, results suggest a possible heightened risk to female physicians, which warrants further investigation. Several physician-specific modifiable suicide risk factors present opportunities for prevention.