Why Physicians Die By Suicide: Lessons Learned From Their Families and Others Who Cared
“I, who have never stopped looking for answers to the “why” of Harry’s suicide even after more than 25 years since his death, raced through these pages with nods of recognition and pauses of gratitude for my deeper knowledge of the unique circumstances that influence the suicide of a physician, including that of my husband.”
-Carla Fine. From the Forward. Author of “No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One”
“This is a signature book for physicians, their families, those who train them and those who treat them. In tackling one of the biggest medical challenges of our time – physician depression and suicide, Dr. Myers has combined his lifelong clinical experience as a “doctors’ doctor” with gripping anecdotes of families who have lost a physician loved one to suicide.”
-Carol A Bernstein, MD. Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Vice Chair for Education and Director of Residency Training. New York University School of Medicine. Past President, American Psychiatric Association
“While public attitudes are opening up to the importance of a proactive approach to mental health, physicians continue to take their lives at a rate higher than the general population. With hard earned compassion and insight, Dr. Myers guides the reader through the many aspects that contribute to physician suicide.”
-Christine Moutier, MD. Chief Medical Officer. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
"Why Physicians Die by Suicide: Lessons Learned From Their Families and Others Who Cared" is powerful and engaging with excellent preventative measures for physicians, significant others and the community. It was great to have additional resources listed.
Tejas V. Patel, MD
Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke's - Mount Sinai West
New York, NY
As a resident physician who survived a serious, near-lethal suicide attempt, many of the passages in Dr. Michael Myers book resonated with me and my experience. He skillfully extracts insights from physicians, physician-patients and their family members about physician suicide and depression through the interviewing process. Their stories provide hope for a better path. Reading this book might make a difference to medical students, residents and physicians who are challenged by mental health concerns as well as their teachers and therapists.
Written by professional psychiatrist Michael F. Myers MD especially for physicians and their families, Why Physicians Die by Suicide directly addresses a distressing problem - why 300 or 400 doctors kill themselves every year. Chapters address multiple contributors to the epidemic - stress and burnout, inherent knowledge of and access too potentially deadly drugs, and flaws in how the medical system treats physicians who need care. A compassionate call for prevention and change, Why Physicians Die by Suicide is highly recommended.
- Midwest Book Review June 2017
This is an important and timely book, exploring in a sensitive but frank way a phenomenon that has been ignored for too long. Mike Myers possesses both the wealth of experience and the critical judgement to speak with authority, an authority that is essential to write about suicide in such an elite professional group that has historically protected its privacy. I read it with interest, sorrow, and recognition (not from personal experience but from studying the historical context). This is a book to inspire change.
-Professor Alannah Tomkins. Director of Humanities Research and Medical School Liaison. Keele University. Staffordshire. England.
Dr. Myers delivers a wake-up call in this short easy to read book. We learn that physicians are human. Just like everyone else, they hurt, they can burn out, they can sink into depression and sadly more than any other group see suicide as their only out. These are always tragic deaths but the secrecy, denial, stigma works to keep the impaired physician from seeking the help (s)he needs or even family and colleagues from reaching out. Dr. Myers shows us how we can save lives by banishing these negatives and telling us what can be done by all of us – therapists, physicians, families and the rest of us. Suicide can be prevented. Dr. Myers has convinced me.
-Alice Herb, JD, LL.M, Emerita. Clinical Professor, Bioethics. SUNY Downstate Medical Center
I highly recommend this powerful, supportive, erudite, gloves-off book from an esteemed world authority we are all fortunate and grateful to have in Dr Myers. This compelling fusion of tear-jerking, heart-breaking personal narratives from the voices of those that have been left behind are beautifully and seamlessly facilitated by this vastly experienced, knowledgeable, compassionate doctors' doctor to produce an uplifting and inspiring must-have book. This caring and moving tome is a torch that leads the way forward by shining a bright light on the darkness that is perhaps the last great taboo in our society, the potential lethal combination of stigma and stigmatization of mental illness. There really is no them and us comes across loud and clear to all that choose to listen. A journey from tears of pain and sadness, to tears of optimism and hope. A book that, dare I say, will need to be read by all of us sooner or later during our hectic and frenetic lives which fits just as well on the coffee table, the book store, the student desk, the shelves of the universities and an important resource for the medical training facilities of the Royal Colleges.
-Dave Emson, survivor. London. England.
Dr. Myers has delved into perhaps the most under-discussed and critical issue plaguing the physician workforce. His work is courageous, informative, and guided by rich narrative interviews from doctors, colleagues and loved ones. The overall message is simple, we cannot allow ourselves or those around us to become isolated especially in our field of work. To quote Dr. Myers, "I've never heard anyone ever say that when their time comes, they hope they are all alone." The details, messages, and practical lessons of this book are its greatest strength. I am currently in a leadership position for resident physicians and we know that the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and depression is much higher than is acceptable amongst our trainees. This book has helped me tremendously to enhance my understanding of the phenomenon of doctor suicide, its causes and its devastating impact on those left behind. Thank you for such a thoughtful, timely, and important contribution to a still under-recognized issue amongst our providers.
-Ramin Tabatabai, MD. Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of USC. Assistant Program Director, LAC+USC Emergency Medicine Residency.
I have read Dr. Myers book and found it to be a wonderful mixture of experiential learning from interview and communications from survivors and families and a scholarly review what is known about this tragic outcome that can affect too many of our physicians throughout the country. It is an important read for all of us in medicine so as to try to minimize the occurrence of these tragedies.
-Henry Grass MD Psychiatrist
A profound, important and beautiful work that heals and guides the medical profession regarding this too often unaddressed issue. Dr. Myers writing is at the core of what it means to be a healer and psychiatrist, recognizing the need to address the challenges physicians face receiving help themselves given their professional identity while still remaining human. His clinical vignettes stayed with me, helping me understand the various challenges different types of physicians face through the course of a medical career. It is a gift of compassion and understanding to physicians and to those touched by loss through suicide.
Dr. Myers has amassed an outstanding collection of the recollections of survivors of physician suicide. Their stories bring awareness of one of medical education's untold scourges...the unnecessary negative aspects that result from sleep deprivation, demeaning instruction from those who should serve as trusted mentors, and the failure to encourage budding physicians to keep close watch over their own physical and mental health. This work is spot on and should be required reading in every medical school.
'Dr Myers provides a unique insight into physician suicide. He uses personal experience; clinical and research skills, to explore one of the most under researched and taboo areas in suicide prevention. Every physician should read this compelling book, which highlights the need for self-care and self-preservation, as they often face the same insecurities and vulnerabilities as those they care for.'
-Dr. Sharon McDonnell. Director of Suicide Bereavement UK
The Physician as Patient: A Clinical Handbook for Mental Health Professionals (American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., Washington, DC, 2008)
"Physicians are not immune from physical and mental illness, often resist getting help for their problems, and die by suicide more frequently than others. In this much-needed and readable book, Drs. Myers and Gabbard use poignant case examples to highlight practical and successful prevention, diagnostic, and treatment strategies for this special population that every mental health professional can use". John A Fromson, MD, Harvard Medical School
Touched By Suicide: Hope and Healing After Loss
Gotham Books/Penguin, September 2006
"Touched By Suicide makes a unique contribution to the books available on surviving after a suicide by combining the perspectives of Myers, a mental health professional, and Carla Fine, a survivor of the suicide of a close family member. The book demonstrates the power of a partnership between scientific knowledge and the wisdom of lived experience. The authors' compassion and concrete advice provide a sturdy handrail for people trying to help families climbing out of the abyss following their loved one's suicide, particularly, in the later stages of grief". Paul S Links, MD, Arthur Sommer Rotenburg Chair in Suicide Studies, University of Toronto, Canada.
Intimate Relationships in Medical School: How to Make Them Work (Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA 2000)
"This book represents the best in primary(i.e. avoiding potential relationship problems) and secondary (i.e. fixing problems before they become deeply entrenched) prevention. I guarantee that you'll learn a lot and will take an important step toward ensuring your present and future well-being". Robert Holman Coombs. Professor of Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
How’s Your Marriage:
A Book for Men and Women
"In this age of information overload here is a book that speaks equally to men and women, and to them as couples. Truly a 'guide', the readers will feel that they are in close communication with a friendly and very experienced professional who talks to them in a clear, caring and gentle way about their intimacy, their frustrations, their disappointments and their hopes. From issues of communication to sexuality, from fears of separation and divorce, to despair of ever finding intimacy and love, from concerns about children and worry over drug abuse and mental illness, Dr. Myers shares his wide clinical and professional experience, and his warmth and concern as a person to provide a rich trove of experience and advice which will be welcomed by those many who increasingly despair of finding resolution with their partners, and renewed hope for a fuller life.”
--Ian Alger, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, The New York Hospital--Cornell University Medical Center, Fellow, American Marriage and Family Therapy Association, New York, New York
A Look at the Problems and Their Solutions
"For doctors, medical students, and their spouses/partners, and for therapists sweeping up the rubble, Myers (psychiatry, U. of British Columbia) draws on his own clinical experience to suggest a biopsychosocial perspective to understanding the stresses on doctors' relationships. He includes many vignettes illustrating common situations, and surveys the various approaches to treatment. The new edition includes insights from further cases since 1988."
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