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Doctors Are People Too – Doctor Suicide Attempts on the Rise

Dr. Kenneth Hughes encounters people almost every day who are rude, unreasonable, or hostile.  Do these patients even realize that the doctors are people as well. Doctors at one time were revered in society not only for their knowledge and professionalism but also for their healing properties. Doctors of today face Google “know-it-alls” and patient rights groups who perpetually target doctors on all forms of social media. It is no wonder that doctor suicide rate is the highest among all professions. Pauline Anderson wrote a recent article in May 2018 citing that one doctor commits suicide in the U.S. every day — the highest suicide rate of any profession. And the number of doctor suicides is up to 4 times that of the general population and even higher than those in the military and those with combat experience.

The path to become a physician is daunting and most people have neither the intellectual ability or work ethic to even think that this is possible. So why are society’s most gifted, hardest working people so unhappy? Most doctors do not even really enter the work force until their mid thirties, saddled with student debts of one million dollars or more in some cases. With doctor pay reduced with managed care, most remain indentured servants for the rest of their lives. Even for those few who can make a decent living, they are saddled with managing social media aspects, increasing paperwork and bureaucracy, oversight from a variety of mentally deficient entities, and the public second-guessing their judgment and competence. It is both extremely arrogant and nonsensical to think that the most elite members should be so scrutinized. If becoming a doctor were easy or performing a doctor’s duties were easy then everyone would be able to do it, but yet we are talking about the most selective profession by several orders of magnitude. If someone cannot even make it through basic elements on the road to becoming a doctor, does it make any sense to criticize? We all dislike the Monday morning quarterback.

Patients and others should really think about this before criticizing a doctor both in person or in a public forum. Your actions have consequences as well. Doctor suicide is real and has become an epidemic. It is not getting better either – it is getting worse statistically every year. Patients and patient advocacy groups will say the problem is always with the doctors – this doctor is bad or that doctor is bad. Make no mistake doctors in this country are the most selective group, much, much much more selective than lawyers for example.   Yet, those same individuals threaten and berate doctors constantly. Doctors invest up to 30 or more years in education just to be able to enter practice. It is little wonder that when doctors finally get out into the world and discover all of the antagonism, suicide seems to be a viable option.

Suicide should never be an option as the best way forward in life.  Dr. Kenneth Hughes, Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon