Physician suicide demographics and the COVID-19 pandemic


Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry




Objective: To identify suicide rates and how they relate to demographic factors (sex, race and ethnicity, age, location) among physicians compared to the general population when aggravated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods: We searched U.S. databases to report global suicide rates and proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) among U.S. physicians (and non-physicians in health occupations) using National Occupational Mortality Surveillance (NOMS) data and using Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) in the general population. We also reviewed the effects of age, suicide methods and locations, COVID-19 considerations, and potential solutions to current challenges. Results: Between NOMS1 (1985-1998) and NOMS2 (1999-2013), the PMRs for suicide increased in White male physicians (1.77 to 2.03) and Black male physicians (2.50 to 4.24) but decreased in White female physicians (2.66 to 2.42). Conclusions: The interaction of non-modifiable risk factors, such as sex, race and ethnicity, age, education level/healthcare career, and location, require further investigation. Addressing systemic and organizational problems and personal resilience training are highly recommended, particularly during the additional strain from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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