Physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession and more than twice that of the general population. It’s estimated that one million Americans lose their physician to suicide each year.
Why? Because there’s stigma surrounding mental health and seeking help. The majority of medical systems lack support for physicians coping with stress and traumatic events. Administrative and regulatory burdens take away from the joy of practicing medicine.
Prevention begins with understanding the warning signs to look for in someone who may be suicidal. With the HEART acronym, we hope to help you easily remember these signs.
If your colleague or loved one is struggling, opening your heart and reaching out can be a critical first step in helping them get the support they need. It can be difficult, but at the appropriate time and place, you can start a meaningful conversation.
If you’re concerned that someone close to you is exhibiting the HEART Vital Signs, the following tips can serve as a helpful guide. With each individual and situation being different, there is no universal way to approach these tough discussions. Click here for a conversation starter.
If you need further guidance or you are in a crisis, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) for free 24/7 support in helping them get the support they need.
Check in with your colleagues and loved ones. It could make all the difference.