Medical professionals at higher risk for suicide?

In Hungary, talking about suicide and depression remains taboo in many professions. Yet the suicide rate in Hungary remains high, and the most at risk are medical professionals, especially women.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Medical professionals at higher risk for suicide?
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Why this story matters:

It’s been almost 30 years since the last survey exploring the reasons for suicide among physicians was conducted in Hungary. The lack of research, however, does not indicate a positive development in the working conditions of health professionals. Quite the opposite, it means that in the last three decades the mental health of medical professionals has been swept under the carpet.

The problem definitely exists. Surgeons, anaesthesiologists and psychiatrists are among the most affected, claims Professor Zoltan Rihmer, a psychiatrist himself.

The real challenge for mental health professionals is that the lack of research makes it harder to raise awareness and encourage those affected to seek help.

Interestingly, female health professionals are more likely to take their own life. Rihmer pointed out that if we look at society as a whole, the contrary is true: two-thirds of those who die as a result of a suicide are males.

Why are Hungarian female doctors more affected? Further research will hopefully find some answers. 

Details from the story:

  • A huge workload, untreated trauma and dealing with tragic situations can all play a role in doctors choosing to end their life, sources working in healthcare told the newspaper Nepszava.
  • Because of the lack of local research, Hungarian psychiatrists often rely on research conducted in other countries. One of the most eye-opening studies was recently published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which concluded that “the number of physician suicides is more than twice that of the general population”.
  • After a Hungarian surgeon explained to Nepszava how stressful their work was, he added ironically that, “a good surgeon starts the day praying in the church and finishes the shift forgetting in the bar.”
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