Remembering that September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, and recognizing that suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the US, Not Alone invited Dr. Blaine Shaffer, the Chief Clinical Officer for the Division of Behavioral Health in Nebraska to speak with us about the increasing rate of depression and suicide by physicians.
Dr. Shaffer reflected that too often it is stigma that prevents medical professionals from adequately addressing depression or suicide. In the 2008 Annuals of Family Medicine, physician/author Dr. Jennifer Middleston expressed her grief and guilt over the suicide of a colleague and stated that, “Physicians are as vulnerable to depression as is the general population, but they seek care at a lower rate and commit suicide at higher rates.” Fears regarding loss of professional stature and respect often prevent depressed physicians from accessing needed mental health services. Dr. Middleston continued, “The same stigma can also compound the mourning process of the family and colleagues of those physicians who complete suicide.”
Dr. Shaffer urged that we work collaboratively to remove the stigma surrounding the treatment for depression and other mental illnesses; he spoke of medical students and practicing physicians who live with their illness and do not seek treatment because the same stigmas and prejudices abound in their workplace as in ours. Not Alone believes we can meet this challenge.
Click on the button below to listen to the September 21 Not Alone broadcast featuring Dr. Blaine Shaffer or download the file and listen later. To listen to past broadcasts, visit The Kim Foundation Web site Not Alone Archive page.
Physician Suicide – Track 1
Physician Suicide – Track 2
Physician Suicide – Track 3
About Not Alone
Airing every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (CST on station KCRO, channel 660 AM based out of Omaha, Neb.), Not Alone is a live talk radio program focused on behavioral health and recovery. Developed by The Kim Foundation through the support of C&A Industries, Inc., Not Alone works to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness. The show seeks to assure individuals, families, and communities that they are not alone, mental illness affects us all, hosting a variety of guest from across the country.