When a Psychiatrist Suicides, it Really Hits Home

I just heard on the news that a psychiatrist in the region was found dead, and her husband made a plea that those with depression should get immediate help. My heart immediately sank…I know all too well the difficult work that being a psychiatrist entails, and even an expert at treating patients with depression and suicidality now succumbs to this devastating disease herself. A psychiatrist who spends her life helping others with depression and suicide now becomes a victim to it herself. It’s tragic, and goes to show you that a disease like depression can kill even those who know everything about it.

I saw patients for 15 years, and that was enough for me. I gave everything to my patients for their treatment and recovery from their mental illness. But I’m glad I don’t have that burden anymore- it’s really too much misery for a human to absorb, and psychiatrists are still in a medical culture where getting help is considered a sign of weakness. ‘Doctor Heal Thyself’ is just lip-service…nobody wants to admit the high burnout rate in psychiatrists, and their workloads just become more unmanageable, with the ever increasing patients lined up to see them to assess and treat their mental illness. Because patients can’t have timely access to psychiatrists, the patients who do finally see a psychiatrist are in a more acute state and in crisis, making the work of a psychiatrist a constant crisis in itself.

So I have a heavy heart at this news of a psychiatrist who suicided. This is tragic, yet preventable and treatable. But even an expert at this can’t fight this when they contract such devastating disease without help, support, and treatment.

And some psychiatrists just chose to leave clinical psychiatry entirely, to better cope and heal.

photo credit: Josu Sein Scream LIV (stand up) via photopin (license)

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