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Sept. 17 is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

August 23, 2021

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Sept. 17 is the fourth annual National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. The day is dedicated to honoring the memory of colleagues who have died by suicide and to continue to raise awareness and discussion on how to prevent it. It also serves as a reminder that suicide can affect us, our friends and our colleagues.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 41,000 individuals die each year by suicide. The Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors estimates that up to 400 physicians take their own lives per yearNPSA Day. While estimates of the actual number of physician suicides vary, the relative risk for suicide is 2.27 times greater among women and 1.41 times higher among men versus the general population.

"As a society and a professional community, it is more important now than ever to foster awareness, reduce stigma and promote a culture of self-care and help-seeking," Nicole Klaus, Ph.D., ABPP, associate professor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, said about preventing physician suicide.

On Friday, Sept. 17, there will be a memorial ceremony, offered virtually via Zoom or in-person on the KU Medical Center campus, to reflect and honor those affected by suicide. Speakers will include Shannon L. Loeck, M.D., attending psychiatrist and clinical instructor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita.

Throughout the month of September, warning signs, helpful tips and resources shared by various offices and departments at KU School of Medicine-Wichita will be communicated through Jayhawk Talk Online, on our Facebook page and on our Healthy Hawks webpage. This information is pertinent to physicians, resident doctors, medical students, our faculty and staff, and also the public.

Getting help

We can all help prevent suicide. Anyone could be struggling. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential support and resources for people in distress: 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. The local 24/7 suicide prevention hotline is 316-660-7500.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita students can access personal counseling resources through the ASA SharePoint site.

Employee Assistance Programs and resources are also available for KUSM-W resident doctors, along with KUSM-W faculty and staff members and Medical Practice Association employees.

Spotting warning signs

Talking or thinking about suicide, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, self-loathing, withdrawing from others, getting affairs in order, and a sudden sense of calm are some of the warning signs of suicide. Learn more about how to spot warning signs.

Nicole Klaus, Ph.D., ABPP, psychologist and associate professor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, talks about preventing physician suicide, including warning signs and promoting a culture of self-care in this video:

Additional mental health resources

*American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Emergency Medicine/Resident and Student Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, The American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, The American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians/Resident and Student Organization, Emergency Medicine Residents' Association and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Last modified: Aug 30, 2021
Media Inquiries:

Belinda Venters

KU School of Medicine–Wichita
Public Affairs
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214

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