Monday, March 30, 2009

Dead on Arrival

Let's talk about death. An unsettling topic but it's one that I live with every day.

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?

Sons
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.

Sigh.

17 comments:

Perky said...

I had no idea that many doctors have suicidal tendencies too..considering that they are the people whom we turn to when we need to be "fixed".

But I guess doctors are human too after all.

Legolas said...

Should I be worried?

Evann said...

Hmm, I read this news online and I just shrugged it off as an accident. Never thought of the possibility of suicide. Well I hope it was really an accident and not suicide.

It's so depressing to know that such noble professionals who contribute so much to the society are not living happy lives. :(

nase said...

Yeah indeed the same thought I had as well, how skewed are we, huh. There were more theories of cuz but I feel they both deserve some respect and their dignity should be preserved hence all those were merely whispers and specualtions. sad indeed.

I do wonder, Paul. If that same incident happens to me, whether I'll make it to the headlines or not. Hardly, eh, right :-(

William said...

If you ever do it, I got a feeling it will be with a BANG!

Jason said...

Why suicide..there are many other ways..:)

joshua said...

Seeing suicidal patients (almost on a daily basis) is planting thoughts into my feeble mind. LOL

Even more so in such a communist-run environment which I have lamented to you before :(

But such a pity. Such a pity.

Queen B said...

ermmm....

now i'm confused...does pediatrician or any doctors in general are susceptible to commit suiside?

aconfusedboy said...

People have great respect for doctors and think they're 'immune' to these tendencies. Which is why doctors themselves try to live up to that and seldom seek help, until the scales tip over.

btw, being doctor is a risk factor for mental illness as well. ah what have we gotten ourselves into.. haha

damian said...

thanks for the tips yah.
Btw..the film is done. Haha.. i mute the dialog of the doctor with the sound made by defibrillator anyway..hahaa

Bino/Geno said...

Hi ya! Thanks for dropping by again. :) Last day ng exams today. Histology. Yey.

Willy's Diary said...

suicide among doctors are high? doctor is someone smart, intelligent and most serious career you can find in this earth...

really can't understand why a professional would suicide...

*ADRIAN* said...

You know, i am working on an assignment due this Friday and guess what?? My topic is also about death. The "female death" to be exact, in regards to feminism. I am working with a very depressing text "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham and i have been reading a lot about death.

As for the doctors, i guess perhaps you are reading too much into it or not...

Chris said...

i think everyvbody scare of dead.. Me too!!!

Kenji said...

This opens a whole new view for me on doctors... I don't think I'll ever think how bad a doctor is when they poke me with the needle or anything of such any longer...

A new found appreciation maybe?

As i read this, i think I truly understand the term workaholic although not int he same sense, but yes, I think you can tell what i'm getting at!

Anyway, stay strong Paul! xD

vic said...

with all the suicide and doctors-care-more-for-patients-than-themselves talk, i know that i'm on the right path to be a doc.

wonder what's my threshold.

and reading all these comments, i didnt know there are still people who still think so highly of docs. i thought nowadays docs just get used and then sued.

johney said...

I remember Eric Segal refering to Doctors as "wounded healers".