Medical Student Deaths by Suicide: The Importance of Transparency

Benjamin M. Laitman, David Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this Invited Commentary, the authors present a call to action regarding the paucity of data related to medical student deaths by suicide. They review the limited literature on medical student suicide and suggest that no comprehensive study has ever occurred. They believe that the available data are too limited to conclude what the rate of death by suicide is among medical students compared with their age-matched peers. The authors speculate that the lack of accurate data may be related both to reluctance on the part of schools to report deaths by suicide and to the failure of national organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and Liaison Committee on Medical Education to mandate reporting. The authors believe that without reliable data, the medical education community will never be able to determine whether any trends or predictors are connected to medical student death by suicide and that, as a result, intervening in a meaningful way will remain impossible. The authors call on the national organizing bodies of medical education to mandate reporting of deaths by suicide, and to create and maintain a database for tracking and studying these events. They advocate for public access to unidentified data, linking medical schools to the number of deaths by suicide, as another method of creating accountability and influencing medical school behavior in addressing this tragic phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-468
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume94
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019

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