MAG recognizing National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

Today (September 17) is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, which is a reminder and a call to action to “break down the culture of silence around physician mental health and physician suicide” and “understand the underlying barriers to mental health care for physicians and share resources that can help those in distress seek mental health care.”

National Physician Suicide Awareness Day is a “time to talk – and to act – so physicians’ struggles don’t become mental health emergencies. Prevention begins with learning the signs, starting the conversations, understanding the underlying barriers, and sharing the resources that can help those in distress seek mental health care.”

The mission of National Physician Suicide Awareness Day is to “break down the culture of silence around physician mental health.”

According to the National Physician Suicide Awareness Day website, “Over the past year, [more than] six in 10 physicians (61 percent) reported they experienced feelings of burnout. When left untreated, burnout can cause more cases of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use, and lead to suicidal thoughts for physicians, directly impacting physician suicide rates.”

The website also emphasizes that, “By creating safe and accessible spaces where physicians feel comfortable talking about their mental health, we will reinforce that physicians can have struggles with mental health – just like everyone else – and engaging in open dialogue is the first step to getting the attention they need to seek care,” adding that, “The pandemic has sharpened into focus the growing epidemic of physician mental health challenges, burnout and suicide.”

National Physician Suicide Awareness Day points out that, “Physicians have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession, and more than half of physicians know a physician who has either considered, attempted or died by suicide in their career. It’s estimated that one million Americans lose their physician to suicide each year.”

Finally, National Physician Suicide Awareness Day is “committed to raising awareness of the physician suicide epidemic and galvanizing physicians, their colleagues and their loved ones to create a culture of wellbeing that prioritizes reducing burnout, safeguarding job satisfaction and viewing seeking mental health services as a sign of strength.”

“If you are a physician in Georgia who is feeling fatigued or overwhelmed, know that the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) cares about you and has your back,” says MAG President Lisa Perry-Gilkes, M.D., F.A.C.S. “And I encourage you to take advantage of the excellent resources that are highlighted at the end of this communication.”

National Physician Suicide Awareness Day website

MAG ‘G.R.I.T.’ Wellness & Resiliency Program web page

The Physicians Foundation’s #VitalSigns Self-Care & Wellness Resources