Every day, a physician in America commits suicide.
Dr. Deelshad Joomun became the first female interventional nephrologist in the United States. She cared deeply & passionately about her work, having dedicated her life to helping others, motivated not by profit or fame but by the strength of her conviction & her spiritual faith. She was a private person, with no social media presence or personal information to be found about her on the Internet… until after she took her own life in a very dramatic & public manner, leaping off the same spot where three other physicians had previously made the same desperate decision.
Doctors are human, and being human means having emotions. It is not unreasonable to hold doctors to a high standard, but it is unreasonable to expect them not to be human. Unfortunately, even among healthcare professionals — who have no excuse and really should know better — the belief persists that those who utilize mental health services are weak, undisciplined, irrational, less competent, & potentially dangerous. In fact, it takes courage & emotional maturity to be aware of one’s mental health status and to seek help when needed, and those who deny & suppress their emotions & refuse to admit when they are suffering are the ones who lack discipline & strength and are ultimately the most dangerous to their patients.
This refusal to acknowledge the emotional experiences of our doctors imposes an enormous & terrible cost upon our nation. The loss of one doctor’s talent, investment in training, value to society, & potential benefits is so high as to be nearly incalcuable, yet the U.S. is losing one doctor to suicide every single day, and the rate is continuing to increase as it has since we first began tracking them decades ago.
These caring, intelligent, courageous humans who chose to dedicate their lives to healing other humans, who survived the rigors of a doctorate education, who work endless hours in a high-stress environment away from their friends & family where mistakes can be a matter of life or death, who watch people suffering & dying every day despite their best efforts to save them… we demand of them stone hearts, and would rather see them die in their white coats than acknowledge the humans wearing them.