When a Patient Dies by Suicide — The Physician’s Silent Sorrow

Looking For The Light

New England Journal of Medicine

January 24, 2019 Dinah Miller, M.D.

We talk about the toll suicide takes on families and the tragedy for the people who’ve died. What we don’t openly talk about is suicide’s toll on the doctors who have treated these patients. But when a patient dies by suicide, it leaves us profoundly changed.

The news came by text as we drove home from brunch. My patient had died that morning by suicide. I read the text and wailed. My husband was driving, and our adult children happened to be away, traveling together on an exotic journey. I struggled to gather words, and my husband held control of the car through those excruciating moments when he thought something horrible had happened to our kids. I calmed down enough to tell him that the tragedy involved a patient. He was relieved. I was not.

U.S. suicide rates increased…

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