Trending Clinical Topics for September 2018

Ryan Syrek


September 28, 2018

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (September 15-21): Suicide

A handful of important new findings and information about a particularly at-risk group resulted in this week's top search term: suicide. A cross-sectional analysis of data revealed that approximately 49 to 65 inpatients die by suicide each year in US hospitals. This figure is sharply lower than a commonly cited figure of 1500 per year. More accurate data, including the typical methods used to complete suicide while hospitalized, will hopefully provide guidance for how institutions can better mitigate suicide risk in the future.

In regard to suicide risk, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined the connection between chronic pain and suicide. Data from 123,000 individuals who died by suicide revealed that 8.8% reported chronic pain. Although that number is fairly consistent with the overall percentage of Americans who have chronic pain, individuals who died by suicide and had chronic pain were less likely to have other suicide triggers, indicating that it is a significant risk factor.

Of particular note to healthcare providers, a new textbook directly tackles the problem of suicide among physicians. Physician Suicide: Cases and Commentaries explores risk factors for burnout, depressive symptoms, and suicide among doctors in a literature review and series of fictionalized case studies. This follows on the heels of a study from earlier this year which found that physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession, including  the military. Even so-called "happy doctors" are at risk. From concern for patients to concern for themselves and their peers, healthcare professionals had plenty of reason to make suicide this week's top trending topic.

For more information on physician suicide, read here.

If you are thinking about suicide and want to talk to someone confidentially, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.


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