400 Doctors Die by Suicide per Year in America - The Silent Epidemic
Many doctors go through medical training with an intention of serving humanity, but medical school often becomes a torture chamber for them.
Dr. Pamela Wible is one passionate doctor who has worked to expose this dark secret. According to her research, doctors go through intensive medical training, endless studying, punishing schedules, sleep deprivation, and night shifts. They are exposed to human suffering and are not able to express themselves.
Doctors are hit by extraordinary stress from every angle and they are expected to perform well. No human being can function optimally under chronic stress. How can we have a functional medical system when our healers are under chronic tension and in danger of becoming ill themselves? If our healers are not well, they cannot help their patients and they will unload their stress on to the patients. Dr. Wible is on a mission to put a stop to this abusive situation.
Below is a short interview with Dr. Pamela Wible:
Moe: Dr. Pamela Wible, as a trained physician, can you please explain the reason(s) why 400 doctors died of suicide each year in America? This statistic is very alarming and sad.
The primary reasons are that we are bullied, hazed, sleep deprived in our training and we have little to no recourse. If we speak up about the institutional abuse, we risk losing our careers. We see death and suffering every day and we grieve for our patients. Yet we are not allowed to cry or grieve publicly. The patriarchal reductionist medical model reinforces creates dehumanized and traumatized physicians. It’s tragic. We are also not able to seek confidential mental health care or fear of losing our medical license.
Moe: You eloquently explain what doctors are going through is abuse and not burn out. Can you elaborate on that?
We enter medicine as inspired, intelligent, compassionate humanitarians. Soon we’re cynical and exhausted. All these totally amazing and high-functioning people are now non-functional with various degrees of emotional distress (PTSD, anxiety, depression, even suicidal thoughts). “Burnout” is victim blaming and shaming. The medical culture of bullying, hazing and sleep deprivation that is the real problem. We’ve had our human rights violated and this is much more serious. “Burnout” is a misdiagnosis that deflects responsibility from the system and blames the individual.
Moe: Is there any department in medical institutions that deals with stressed or abused medical students?
No department is dealing with the widespread human rights violations of medical students or doctors.
There is also no organization tracking medical student suicides or even physician suicides. These are being covered up. If this were an infectious disease it would be on the evening news and we’d have an exact body count.
Do you believe doctors can make more medical mistakes and misdiagnose patients when they are under constant chronic stress?
Absolutely. Doctors have been so abused and sleep deprived that many are unsafe to drive home after work.
If you are not safe to drive a car after a 36-hour shift, how can you be forced to work in the ICU or do surgery?
Moe: In order to care and treat others, doctors need to take care of themselves as well. Is there any mandatory consistent self care programs for doctors? or doctors are expected to work like machines?
Doctors are expected to work like machines. If they dissent to inhumane working conditions they are threatened with loss of medical license.
Is this phenomena happens in other parts of the world too?
What kind of advice would you give to doctors or anybody going through abuse?
Your abuse will only get worse unless you stand up for yourself and your colleagues. This is a cycle of abuse that is handed down from one generation to the next.
If you are complicit with the abuse, you will become the perpetrator.
You can’t be a victim and a healer at the same time.
Why do Doctors Kill Themselves? Dr. Pamela Wible
100% of Medical Students Report Abuse.
As Dr. Wible says, physician burn-out is not a sufficient term - doctors experience abuse. The solution is not to cope with the abuse, but to stop it. If you're a medical student or a physician, refer to Dr. Wible's website for more guidance.
In any form of abuse, it is always vital to get help to end the cycle. If you're a victim of abuse, know that it is not easy to stand up against a perpetrator and it is not your fault. Most of us cannot do this alone and we need support.
You can also practice self-care techniques to make your body and mind stronger and to give you the confidence and strength to stop the abuse. Develop self-care with the intention of stopping the abuse, not coping with it.
Some self-care tips to profoundly strengthen your system:
If you don't feel safe doing this process alone, or are having suicidal thoughts, anxiety, or any other mental anguish, please do not attempt this alone. Contact a registered psychotherapist. You are responsible for your own health.
Eating nutrient-dense foods creates a healthy physical foundation.
Movement and exercise are necessary for a strong body and mind. Exercise releases pent up stress, activates the lymphatic system, makes the body stronger, and ultimately regulating stress better.
I love rebounding on a professional rebounder (Celleciser) but the secret is to pick an exercise that works for you and is fun so you are motivated to do it on a regular basis.
Spend time in nature and walk barefoot on the beach.
In doing so, your body is exposed to so many healthy elements (the sun, free electrons from the Earth to fight off inflammation, minerals from the ocean, fresh potent negative-ion rich air, the sound of the ocean and more). All of these elements activate your parasympathetic system to release stress and initiate healing.
Be assertive and express your emotions in a healthy safe environment.
Some effective ways of expressing yourself are: Journaling, art, counselling, and photography. It does not matter what healthy outlet you choose; what matters is feeling your body and expressing it through a medium. Pick a medium that you love - even mindful walking could be a form of healthy expression.
Be part of a caring community.
Incidences of depression are much higher among isolated people. Practices such as group healing and family constellations therapy can be a potent healing support.