Speak Up: There is Help and Support

Suicide can be Prevented

Suicide is an unfortunate reality that takes the lives of an estimated 400 physicians in U.S. every year. Fortunately, depression, suicidality, mental health and distress are responsive to proper intervention. Doctors too.

Nevada regulations now require physicians to earn two CME credits every four years in an effort to promote physicians’ abilities to recognize a patient who might be in danger of harming himself or herself. However, the regulation doesn’t address suicide prevention for physicians.

It raises the question: “While we’re looking out for our patients,  who’s looking out for us?”

At the Nevada State Medical Association annual meeting in late August, the first CME program about suicide prevention was presented. A few days later, one of our own members took his life.

Tragically, we lost John Maberry, M.D., a member of WCMS, in late August. He was remembered Sept. 9 at Idlewild Park during the “Walk for Hope,” sponsored by the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention. But, we need to do more.

In the president’s letter to members, Dr. Andrew Pasternak encouraged members to please make sure to check in with colleagues and partners during difficult times. Additionally, we need to take the first step to combating this problem by freely communicating about depression, mental illness and suicide. If you need help, please contact Dr. Pasternak at 775-219-6535 or WCMS at 775-825-0278. Anyone also can call the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention at 775-687-0847 or 775-687-0849. Rest assured, confidentiality will be maintained.

This is our first step—communication about suicide and opening avenues for those who wish to talk. We thank psychiatrists Steven Rubin, M.D., and Charles Price, M.D., both of whom have offered to be available to members who want to talk.

The next step–WCMS is beginning to explore ways in which we can provide a physician wellness program. This will take time but it is an important step. Many of our medical society colleagues have programs in place that we can explore as we determine how to implement our next step—creation of a program. Your input is appreciated.

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