NY Hospital Suicide Highlights Distress Among Clinicians

HealthLeaders Media Staff, August 8, 2017

An anesthesiologist jumps to his death at a New York medical center, setting off another round of discussion about mental illness among medical practitioners.

The suicide of a New York City physician Friday illustrates the breadth and severity of mental illness among clinicians.

Gabriel Goodwin, MD, an anesthesiologist, killed himself by jumping  from the roof of a parking garage at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. The doctor was 35, according to the New York Post.

Law enforcement found evidence that he had tried to purchase a gun that day, but said they had uncovered nothing to indicate any intention to harm others.

Last month at another Bronx hospital, Henry Bello, MD, shot seven people, one fatally, before killing himself with his weapon.

  • Rates of depression or depressive symptoms among the medical profession surpass rates in the general population. They are estimated to be around 30% among resident physicians.
     
  • Goodwin's widow told the New York Daily News: “My husband was a good soul suffering from severe depression.”
     
  • "We don't know whether [rates of depression are] increasing or decreasing, but anecdotally it's not going away," says Michael F. Myers, MD, a professor of clinical psychiatry at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.
     
  • Myers cites untreated mental illness as a factor in physician suicide. "For 10% to 15% of the families I interview, their departed loved one had not received any help at all," he says.
     
  • Physicians are often reluctant to disclose whether they have been treated for mental health issues, which is a standard question on medical licensing applications.
     
  • Addressing, via leadership initiatives, the culture of medicine that contributes to clinician burnout may bring some relief.

Gabriel Goodwin had two daughters and a son, according to the NY Daily News. The oldest was eight years old.

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