Submitted by Loice A Swisher, MD
Chair of the CORD Mental Health Task Force, Resilience Committee
Drexel University College of Medicine
- Per the World Health Organization more than 800,000 people worldwide are estimated to die each year by suicide.
- Per the 2014 CDC statistics, more than 494,000 people in the US came to the hospital because of self-harm.
- Physicians have a higher rate of suicide completion than the general population such that some consider it a potential occupational risk.
- In 2014, two residents jumped to their death in New York City. The ACGME responded by committing to a series of wellness symposia. The first one occurring November 2015.
As emergency physicians, we see those who are depressed and contemplating suicide. We comfort the families of those who completed suicide. It is part of our work. However, in January 2016 suicide struck closer to us when Chris Doty posted to the CORD listserv that one of his resident chose to die. He called on us to acknowledge suicide’s existence—stating “we must speak its name, we must learn about it and talk about it”
CORD responded by starting off the 2016 Academic Assembly in Nashville with a 7AM Remembrance Vigil for residents and colleagues lost to suicide and violence. The shared stories in Mockingbird 4, the memorial location, were impactful- both painful and healing. A beginning to shine a light on the darkness.
The CORD Board has taken another step by partnering with the National Council for Suicide Prevention to focus a light on suicide prevention on September 10- World Suicide Prevention Day. For this 13th World Suicide Prevention Day, the National Council has developed a “Take 5 to Save Lives” campaign. Everyone is encouraged to:
- Learn suicide warning signs.
- Join the movement.
- Spread the word.
- Support a friend.
- Reach out.
Learn more about Take 5 to Save Lives at http://www.take5tosavelives.org/
For more resources check out the National Council for Suicide Prevention and World Suicide Prevention Day!
Suicide is preventable. It might just begin with asking, “Are you OK?”