Written by Michelle Flatt.

ECMA Cares About Preventing Doctor Suicide


Time and time again, people fail to address the scale of suicide and mental illness in the medical profession. Emerald Coast Medical Association wants to change that. By becoming a member of Emerald Coast Medical Association, you will always be supported by our other members and us.

Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D. wrote an article on the five ways to help prevent doctor suicide, which we want to share with our members.

The first way to help prevent physician suicide is by destigmatizing mental illness for doctors and medical students. Although doctors are the ones who take care of people, they have the same risk factors for mental illness as the general population does. According to Dr. Rowe, when our patients talk about problems within their life, whether they be physical or mental, it can trigger us because of our own history. Having an understanding of our own vulnerabilities can help us when we experience these triggers.

While stress and burnout are recognized as “normal” in medical workplaces, they should be recognized as warning signs of mental illness. Mental illness is known to have a stigma surrounding it, but for doctors, it is even more so. It is important that if a coworker discloses something to you about feeling depressed or burnout that you address it with him and let them know they you do not judge them. That is why Emerald Coast Medical Association is an excellent place for doctors; they can all relieve stress and talk about how they feel without worrying about judgment.

The second way is to encourage doctors and medical students to have their own trusted doctors that they can seek help from if they need it. Although we can recognize the early symptoms of mental illness, we should not treat our coworkers or friends because we can not give them optimal care.

Only about 50 percent of doctors have their own independent doctor, and often times we see our doctor later rather than sooner as we should have. Dr. Rowe believes it is important to have routine mental health screenings.

The third way to prevent physician suicide is by providing optimal management of mental health problems in doctors and medical students. Dr. Rowe has said from experience she often sees doctors with a mixed pattern of depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of which can come from being overexposed to patient misery, violence, abuse, and death, including suicide.

Physician suicide is actually more common than suicide in the general population. Structured formal mindful-based cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for doctors suffering from mental health disorders.

The fourth way is by changing our medical culture. A medical career is challenging and complex, and doctors require support. Many medical workplaces do not give doctors the time off that they need or help them out when they ask for a lower workload; this can put pressure on them and lead to them experiencing burnout.

According to Dr. Rowe, recent families of young doctors who have committed suicide have described the medical field as “soul-crushing.” Bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace can cause safety issues, especially for doctors who are predisposed to mental health issues. Changing medical culture will take time but is well worth it as it will be beneficial in the long run.

The fifth and final way to prevent doctor suicide is by making our medical organizations work for us. Engage with your medical organization and work together to present a powerful unified voice of advocacy for doctors at a local, national, and global level. Medical organizations can provide more ways for doctors to deal with their mental health, such as conferences and training in care for mental illness.

It is important to remind ourselves of what makes us enjoy being doctors and why we chose this career in the first place. Coming together as a united team is what will really help to prevent physician suicide. Emerald Coast Medical Association is here to help prevent it, and we are ready for you to be a part of our team.

Unite with us, and help us prevent doctor suicide.

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You can find the original article by Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D., here: https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2018/12/5-ways-we-can-prevent-doctor-suicide.html


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The Emerald Coast Medical Association strives to provide superior member benefits. By joining, you will gain access to cutting edge continuing medical education, top medical malpractice & cyber liability insurance plans, and a comprehensive group health plan. Our board also continually advocates at the local, State, and Federal level all with a goal to support our physician members with a desire to excel.



Members are invited to the New Member recognition meeting annually, multiple hot topics meetings to better inform our members and networking social events.

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Member Resources

We serve as a community resource for connecting patients and physicians. We are a conduit of information for physicians in a rapidly changing medical environment.

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