Female doctors at greatest risk of suicide


20 Sep 2016

The risk of suicide among women employed in any health profession is higher than for women in other occupations, new research shows.

The nationwide study from Deakin University and the University of Melbourne found that of 9828 suicides during 2001 and 2012 almost 4 percent were by health professionals.

Females working in the health professions were particularly at risk, the researchers found.

The age-standardised rate of suicide among female health professionals was 6.4 per 100 000 person-years for medical practitioners, 8.2 per 100 000 person-years for midwives and nurses, and 4.5 per 100 000 person-years for other health professionals.

This compared with 2.8 per 100 000 person-years for women in other occupations

The authors suggested that women in male-dominated areas of medicine might feel a number of barriers hindering their career advancement.

“Female professionals may still feel pressure to undertake child care and household roles, leading to considerable gender role stress,” they wrote in the study published in the MJA.

The results of their study highlighted the need for targeted prevention of suicide, they concluded.

Strategies targeted at health professionals should also pay heed to the higher rate of suicide among professionals with access to prescription medicines, they added.

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