Why do doctors commit suicide?

The statistics on physician suicide are frightening: Physicians are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as nonphysicians (and female physicians three times more likely than their male counterparts). Some 400 doctors commit suicide every year. Young physicians at the beginning of their training are particularly vulnerable: In a recent study, 9.4 percent of fourth-year medical students and interns — as first-year residents are called — reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous two weeks…

This drastic increase in responsibility can and does overwhelm most interns. Despite the support of my supervisors, my first two months were marked by severe fatigue, numerous clinical errors (that were promptly caught by my supervisors), a constant and haunting fear of hurting my patients and an inescapable sense of inadequacy. I kept up a charade of composure and humor to blend in with my talented colleagues, believing that I was struggling alone. Inside, however, I felt as if I would be found out all too soon.

It was over a dinner of Thai food that I finally opened up. One of my most accomplished colleagues in residency had complimented me on my clinical knowledge a couple of times during the meal. Sick of feeling like a charlatan, I told him about the trouble I was having with collecting clinical data and presenting it in an organized way on rounds. I confessed that I did not think I belonged in the program. He listened thoughtfully, and then uttered the three most beautiful words I had ever heard: “Dude, me too!”