Medical student suicide, 1989-1994

Am J Psychiatry. 1996 Apr;153(4):553-5. doi: 10.1176/ajp.153.4.553.


Objective: Studies examining suicide rates for medical students have yielded conflicting data. This article addresses medical student suicide from August 1989 through May 1994.

Method: Telephone interviews were conducted with a representative from each U.S. medical school, generally the dean of student affairs. If a suicide had occurred, information regarding demographic characteristics, psychiatric or substance abuse history, means of suicide, month, and presence of a suicide note was obtained.

Results: Responses were obtained from 101 (80%) of the 126 U.S. medical schools. Responding schools reported 15 suicides by medical students from August 1989 through May 1994. Fourteen were by men. Six suicides were committed during the third year of medical school, and four occurred during the fourth year. Six students left notes, and nine of 13 had psychiatric histories.

Conclusions: The results demonstrate a lower suicide rate than that found in previous studies and emphasize the need for standardized reporting methods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Seasons
  • Sex Distribution
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology