National Physician Suicide Awareness Day was Sept. 17. It is perhaps not well known that physicians die by suicide at a rate more than double that of the general population, and in some specialties – such as emergency medicine – the incidence is even higher than that. This is likely because doctors are exposed daily to high levels of stress, frequently are tasked with making life-or-death decisions and work hours that do not allow for adequate sleep.

Physicians die by suicide at more than twice the rate of the general population. Maridav/Shutterstock.com

As an emergency physician, I do love my job and am constantly humbled that I am entrusted to care for other humans on what is often the worst day of their life. But we are not OK. Your doctors are tired. We are working harder than ever with too many patients and not enough staff, and there is no end in sight.

So, please, if you are down on your luck and find yourself in your local emergency department, be patient and have respect for the people taking care of you. And, I beg you, wear a face mask in high-risk locations and get your COVID-19 vaccine.

It is our duty and privilege to care for you, but I ask that you do your part, too. To my health care colleagues: If you are struggling – reach out, lean on your peers, talk to a counselor. You are not alone.

Brandon Giberson, DO
Portland

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