A national survey of medical student suicides

Acad Psychiatry. 2014 Oct;38(5):542-6. doi: 10.1007/s40596-014-0075-1. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Abstract

Objective: Because there is no current information on medical student suicides, the authors surveyed US medical schools about deaths by suicide of medical students from June 2006 to July 2011.

Methods: In spring through summer of 2012, the authors sent electronic surveys to the 133 accredited US allopathic medical schools at the time, excluding Puerto Rican schools. The 15-item survey included questions about deaths by suicide and deaths by means other than suicide. In the case of a reported suicide, the survey obtained information regarding demographic characteristics and method of suicide.

Results: The 90 responding schools (response rate 69 %) reported a total of six suicides (four males, two females; five Caucasians, one Asian) from July 2006 to June 2011. Two deaths by suicide occurred in first year, two in second year, and two in third year. Two of the suicides occurred by gunshot, two by hanging, one by overdose, and for one, the cause of death was unknown. Three of the six students left a suicide note.

Conclusion: Although the number and rate of suicides among medical students may be lower than a prior survey that was conducted more than 15 years ago, these data affirm the importance of suicide prevention programs for medical students.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Students, Medical / psychology
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult