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We have been hearing with great sadness about cases of suicide amongst anaesthetists and intensivists. Our specialty has traditionally been considered at greater risk, possibly due to work-related stress, easy access to (and knowledge of) potent drugs, or both. Establishing accurate figures on numbers of deaths by suicide is virtually impossible, through deficiencies in national data collection systems and variable coroners’ reports. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to complete our online survey on the impact of suicide among anaesthetists and intensive care doctors working in the UK and Ireland. We will publish the results of this survey as a standalone resource, as well as refer to it in the Association of Anaesthetists guidance in the event of a suicide, to be published in mid/end 2019. Although individual free text responses may be included to illustrate points, any potentially identifying information will be removed.
Suicide awareness - support and resources
Useful information for doctors in distress and those supporting them (links open in new websites).
Doctor Support Service
Available to all doctors irrespective of BMA membership if a complaint has been made to the GMC. Support is available from the initial complaint until the outcome of the case.
A confidential, not for profit, psychotherapeutic consultation service for all doctors. Although located in London the service is open to all doctors in the UK. For doctors living a considerable distance from London they can offer follow up by Skype, after the initial face-to-face consultation. Supported by the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF).
Practitioner Healthcare Programme
Offers confidential medical care to doctors who may struggle to access confidential care because of the nature of their work. Furthermore, they have an agreement with the General Medical Council which means they can treat doctors with substance misuse issues without informing them of individual cases (with certain exceptions).
Tea and Empathy
In response to the low morale experienced by junior doctors during the UK junior doctors’ strikes in 2016, a social media group was created on Facebook.
Support in Ireland
Practitioner Health Matters
Provides care and support for health professionals in Ireland who may have mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or burnout or who may have a substance misuse problem. It is fully independent and separate from the regulatory bodies and employers. It has been endorsed by Memorandum of Understanding by various representative and professional bodies, including the Medical Council, the Irish Medical Organisation, and the Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies. Call on 01 297 0356.
Employee Assistance Program
The "Employee Assistance and Counselling Service" (EACS) is a national independent service that is available free of charge to all employees in HSE funded hospitals and community health organisations and divisions. EACS provides confidential professional support and counselling to employees. This free service is provided to support employees at a time of difficulty with personal and or work related issues.
A free and confidential service providing professional one-to-one therapeutic service for people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, people who have attempted suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. They also provide free counselling, therapy and support to individuals, couples, families and children who have been bereaved by suicide. Call on 1800 247 247.
Useful information for all people in distress and those supporting them
24/7 call free from any phone on 116 123.
Online resource to offer hope, compassion and practical ideas on how to find a way forward and how to make a Safety Plan.
Poignant and compelling letters of hope and recovery written by people with lived experience to reach and help others who are struggling with some much needed hope.
Tips on self-care
An accessible, free mini-resource that anyone can benefit from using, promoting an effective approach to living a more balanced life.
Your mental health (Ireland only)
Learn about mental health and how to support yourself and others. Find resources and support services near you.
Help is at Hand
Support after someone may have died by suicide, produced by Public Health England/National Suicide Prevention Alliance
Other related links and resources:
Why we need to talk about suicide - Anaesthesia News article, Aug 2018
Losing Richard - external blog interview ('This special Mastering Intensive Care episode is on a difficult and important topic. Rather than focusing on bringing our best selves to work, the focus of this episode is the ultimate tragedy of our profession, doctor suicide.')
All is well podcast - external podcast
Lauren's story - external video
Several videos via Learn@ (login required) - search for ‘Suicide in anaesthetists’ & ‘Being human’, and/or browse the ‘Wellbeing’ category)
StayingSafe.net - external website, offering compassion, kindness and easy ways to help keep people safer from thoughts of harm and suicide