The National Academy of Medicine Perspective, Breaking the Culture of Silence on Physician Suicide, brought together four unique voices from surgery, nursing, medical training, and the clergy to consider what led Kaitlyn, a young medical student, to take her own life on April 11, 2013. Drawn from personal experiences, the authors expose what they feel is a culture of silence under intense pressure that pushes physicians and trainees to experience depression and in many cases to tragically end their lives. But these are just four opinions based on four experiences. The authors hope to bring more voices into their conversation by requesting others who are comfortable with sharing to offer their own reactions to situations they were forced to navigate throughout their education and careers as health providers. Dr. Elisabeth Poorman, a primary care doctor and a former resident at Cambridge Health Alliance, answered the call and agreed to reprint her entry in WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, published in August 2016. This piece is Dr. Poorman’s personal reflection on the rampant depression experienced by doctors and doctors in training, and is found below.
As with any challenge, the first step is to identify the problem so solutions can be formed jointly by those most affected. The four authors took this first step; Dr. Poorman added her voice, and anyone else can join the movement by sending their written thoughts, opinions, or personal accounts relating to the culture of silence to firstname.lastname@example.org. These written comments will only be shared if the writer and those easily identified in the remarks provide explicit permission to do so.