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Sept. 17 is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

Upcoming events will raise awareness about suicide prevention while honoring the memory of colleagues.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Sept. 17 is the sixth annual National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. The day is dedicated to honoring the memory of colleagues who have died by suicide and to continue to raise awareness and discussion on how to prevent it. It also serves as a reminder that suicide can affect us, our friends and our colleagues.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 41,000 individuals die each year by suicide. The Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine estimates that up to 400 physicians take their own lives per year. While estimates of the actual number of physician suicides vary, the relative risk for suicide is 2.27 times greater among women and 1.41 times higher among men versus the general population.

"As a society and a professional community, it is more important now than ever to foster awareness, reduce stigma and promote a culture of self-care and help-seeking," Nicole Klaus, Ph.D., ABPP, associate professor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, said about preventing physician suicide.

Several upcoming events will honor those impacted by suicide:

Sept. 7

The 7th annual Party for Prevention hosted by StopSuicideICT will be from 5-10 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Wichita Boathouse. Speakers include: Lori Barnes, a survivor of suicide loss and board member on the Advocacy Committee for the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, co-chair and treasurer for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) South Central Kansas and member of the Kansas NAMI Advocacy Committee; and Dawn Shepler, executive director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition.

Sept. 29

KU Medical Center and the University of Kansas Health System will host a memorial ceremony in recognition of National Physician Suicide Awareness Day at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, in the Murphy Courtyard at KU Medical Center. The ceremony will also be available virtually. The keynote speaker will be Moben Mirza, M.D., FACS, interim chair of the Department of Urology for KU School of Medicine.

Sept. 30

The KU School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences will host a table at the third-annual Suspenders4Hope 5K and 1 mile walk/run on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Wichita State University. Following the race, several speakers and awards will be given. The event will conclude with a 1 Mile Memorial Walk in honor of those who lost their lives to suicide. All registrants for the run and walk will receive a race T-shirt. The event benefits StopSuicideICT.

Getting help

We can all help prevent suicide. Anyone could be struggling. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential support and resources for people in distress. If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat The local 24/7 suicide prevention hotline is 316-660-7500.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita students can access personal counseling resources through the ASA SharePoint site. More information and resources are also available on the KU Medical Center website.

Employee Assistance Programs and resources are also available for KUSM-W resident doctors, along with KUSM-W faculty and staff members and Medical Practice Association employees.

Spotting warning signs

Talking or thinking about suicide, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, self-loathing, withdrawing from others, getting affairs in order, and a sudden sense of calm are some of the warning signs of suicide. Learn more about how to spot warning signs.

Nicole Klaus, Ph.D., ABPP, psychologist and associate professor at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, talks about preventing physician suicide, including warning signs and promoting a culture of self-care in this video:

Additional mental health resources

*American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Emergency Medicine/Resident and Student Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, The American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, The American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians/Resident and Student Organization, Emergency Medicine Residents' Association and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

KU School of Medicine-Wichita