Background: So far no comprehensive systematic review has been published about epidemiologic studies on suicides among medical practitioners. The aim here is to describe the variation of published estimates of relative risk of doctors to die from suicide.
Method: A systematic review of published original articles on population-based studies, registered mainly in MEDLINE and fulfilling specific methodological requirements. Incidence rates and standardised mortality ratios were calculated for male and female doctors in relation to the reference groups.
Results: The estimated relative risk varied from 1.1 to 3.4 in male doctors, and from 2.5 to 5.7 in female doctors, respectively, as compared with the general population, and from 1.5 to 3.8 in males and from 3.7 to 4.5 in females, respectively, as compared with other professionals. The crude suicide mortality rate was about the same in male and female doctors.
Conclusion: In all studies the suicide rates among doctors were higher than those in the general population and among other academic occupational groups.