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Physician Suicide Lurks in the Shadows

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Hello, my name is Dan Lakoff, and I am an emergency medicine physician in New York, and cofounder of National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. I cofounded it three years ago with the hope and belief that by raising awareness about physician suicide we could potentially save lives.

Suicide in medicine has been around for a long time, it has been lurking in the shadows because we haven’t dealt with it. We haven’t given ourselves permission to talk about our own mental health, we haven’t had much success in reducing the barriers to access to care and we haven’t been able to advocate for a better designed system.

Meanwhile, medicine has become more complicated and applied more pressures to us, and we haven’t even been able to revise our medical culture to help us better cope with these new challenges.

So with National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, my hope is that we can at least take a day to remember our friends and colleagues who have died by suicide. And we can make sure that our teams around us know how to access care if they are in crisis or even in need of non-urgent care and stimulate some conversation about suicide in medicine. Only by talking about it do we have a chance to deal with it and prevent suicide.

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