National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

September 17, 2022

As aspiring physicians, we are ready to take on the world. We’ve given up time with our friends and family, overcome a seemingly infinite number of hurdles, and have dedicated our lives to the pursuit of medicine. 
Physically, emotionally, mentally, we are all in for our patients. This is the standard that we as aspiring physicians are often held to. Even beyond our professional practice, physicians have been expected to live a certain way. We’ve been taught that physicians can bear it all, and physicians have taken it all. 
What people don’t see, what we ourselves often don’t recognize, is that many, too many, suffer in silence. Burnout, depression, thoughts of suicide. Physicians try to push on, helping others, but unable to help themselves. We invalidate our own challenges, continuing the detrimental narrative that physicians are superhuman. Too often, trauma is seen as an expected part of the journey. 
Every year, 300-400 physicians die by suicide every year. Furthermore, as we navigate through the COVID pandemic, we are seeing the true toll this has had on our health care providers. This September, AMSA recognizes September 17 as National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. We hope to continue to spread awareness regarding this epidemic and pledge our continued support to help those who are suffering. We encourage everyone to reach out to others, recognizing that we also need to care for our physicians. While it may not always be apparent, we remind everyone to offer help to our colleagues. Lastly, on this day, we remember those that we have lost.
AMSA continues to support aspiring physicians. In 2021, we supported the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. This aimed to “reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals.” This was ultimately signed into law, giving health care providers the help they desperately needed. AMSA has a history of working towards mental health spanning decades, as we continue to recognize the importance mental health has not only for our patients, but for ourselves. 

What you can do:

Be the person someone can reach out to
There are huge systemic changes that we as a society need to address. However, it all starts with you. The person desperate for your help may be a colleague, a classmate, or a friend.

Mental health training
As with physical health, mental health crises can arise. Learning the signs of various diseases and developing the skills to address these can greatly improve the outcomes for our patients and those around us. Join AMSA and learn these skills through various trainings we hold, or see what is available in your area.

Contact your local representative
Many state medical boards have language stigmatizing physician mental health in their license applications. Contact your local state board and show your support for inclusive best practices regarding mental health care for our physicians.

Mental health resources

Call 988
As of July 16, 2022, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is now 988. Their goal is to “provide 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.”
Crisis Text Line
Text “HELLO” to 741741. “Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, high-quality text-based mental health support and crisis intervention by empowering a community of trained volunteers to support people in their moments of need.”

References and further information

  • 988 Lifeline
  • American Foundation of Suicide Prevention
  • Dr. Lorna Breen Foundation
  • Crisis Text Line
  • National Institute of Mental Health


Paul Macaballug

Chair, Wellness and Student Life Action Committee