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We are well paid, intellectually stimulated, and, if we are lucky, trusted and maybe even loved by our patients.Yet on certain days, when our patients do not do well, the trade-off seems untenable.My son, Greg, was being monitored by such a program.He took his own life at age 29, one week before he was to enter an esteemed oncology fellowship.Greg felt humiliated, cornered, and killed himself.His mom wrote this letter to the editor of in response to a physician suicide article last month.How are we to protect ourselves from the emotional hazards of the practice of medicine?How are we to stand with our patients through the very worst while avoiding depression, significant stress reactions, and even substance abuse or addiction?
He felt if he were a banker or lawyer he wouldn’t have this forced upon him.
They recruited me for pediatrics, but I kept asking why? Sister Agnes comes by and tells him to put his feet down. An athlete and artist, compassionate, sensitive, gregarious, yet private. He lost a lot of weight and his jokes and laughs were gone.
His Aunt Edna told me in catholic grammar school Vincent has his feet up on the chair in front of him. He says, “I have varicose veins.” Here’s Vincent at high school prom. Here’s Vincent’s med school graduation photo—just 25 years old and 2 months after starting a prestigious surgical residency in New York City, he dies by suicide. He lived near the hospital, but drove an extra 45 minutes home at every chance he had just to sleep in his own bedroom.
He spoke of his doubts about saving this one guy who jumped out of a building when caught raping a young girl who was also being treated in an adjacent room. At 5, he goes on this family trip to visit his great aunt—a nun at a convent.
How he and his partner fell asleep leaning against walls in the hospital while waiting for their patient’s turn for a scan.