A few days back, the news that two misadventuring doctors had been found dead in a ravine caught my eye. Paid even more attention when I realized the two names seemed familiar enough. Supposedly the ill-fated pair had been out jungle-trekking only to suffer an unforeseen tragic fall off a cliff's edge.
At least that's the possible likelihood proposed by the investigating crime scene officers.
So why is it that my first thought was suicide? Frankly I wasn't the only one. Everyone else at work thought the same. When someone in the medical fraternity passes away suddenly, we all immediately leap to the most obvious ( though erroneous in this case! ) conclusion which is suicide.
Ginny : OMG. Look. These doctors were both found dead in a ravine!
Paul : Was it suicide?
Ginny : Probably! Lemme check in the papers.
Paul : Looks like they had a tragic fall.
Ginny : Still could have been a suicide.
Is it terribly morbid to think so? Dead doctors on arrival and we all automatically assume it's suicide? While everyone else would assume tragic circumstances, we immediately think of suicide notes and empty medicine bottles.
A skewed view?
Dammit. I should just go kill myself!
Perhaps it's the surprisingly high rates of suicide amongst doctors. Perhaps it's the fact that I already personally know three doctors who have done the deed and two who have failed ( and are under psychiatric treatment ). Not exactly reassuring news. What's even worse is there's a special category in wikipedia just for doctors who have committed suicide. A dubious acknowledgement if any.
So why do they take the plunge?
Could go on and on about the pressures at work as I have before - and it's all true. But I think one of the other reasons could be a lack of a helping hand. Unfortunately medicine is still a terribly macho profession where we all hide any signs of illnesses if possible. Sure, we might treat the sick and suffering but we sure as hell aren't going to admit to any! See us at work and you'll find us all coughing, sneezing and wheezing ( and otherwise totally unfit to work ) but we all bravely soldier on. Frankly we care more about the patients sometimes than we care about ourselves - and our colleagues.
And depression would be even easier to hide. Sick and struggling under the strains of the job ( from work pressure to excessive hours ), these doctors are oddly reluctant to seek help. And once they decide to commit suicide, they are usually successful.
They know how to do it.
Hence the high ratio of suicide completions to attempts. Obviously the reason I know more doctors who have died from suicide than those who survived the attempt.