I hate to start the week out on such a sad note, but this is something I wanted write about. If you do not like sad stories, please read no further.
I know many of you have heard about the suicide rate in certain professions and how dental always seems to rank near the top. I remember when I decided I wanted to go to dental school. My friends would say that dentists kill themselves, but I knew nothing about that statistic. So in my official dental school interview, I asked them about it. Their response was that they had known dentists that had killed themselves but it was due to poor decisions and getting in over their head! Well okay, I guess that could happen to anyone. I am not sure if poor business decisions are the reality of why it happens, but why do studies say dentist do it more than others?
Well, it hit close to home recently. Our office received a phone call telling us that a dentist we know had committed suicide. I was stunned and did not know what to think. I did not know him closely, but we were colleagues and had lunch before and we would talk when we were out and about. I even referred patients to him.
He did not have an over-the-top, extravagant practice and patients always seemed to love him. He did very good work. He was very fit and active, and always seemed happy. It is hard to place or understand what led up to this.
I understand depression can be very complicated, but it is very sad that things can evolve to this point. I do not know if it was related to work, home, the economy, or what. Dentistry is a very hard profession. I know there are lots of hard jobs, but I feel there is something extremely challenging about dentistry that can place a lot of pressure on people. We constantly have people in pain or discomfort that need our help. We console, diagnose, and treat - sometimes all in an hour. We fret over fractions of millimeters and have to do it typically multiple times a day. Numerous patients constantly remind us that they hate coming to the office and we are so expensive. We have staff that we work closely with that we need to keep satisfied. It can be draining and wear on us.
I have seen many articles talking about the stress and factors that are part of dentistry and how to relieve the stress, but I guess it creeps up on people and they get engulfed before they realize what is going on. I personally have had some dark days and try to remind myself and that all the problems are not as serious as I might think at that time and they will pass.
I believe having someone to talk to is important, especially a colleague that is in the trenches and understands the daily battles we wage. This blog does help with that in some ways. Knowing you are not alone I think can be very helpful for some people.
What do you think makes the dental profession more statistically prove to suicide?
When you go home and see your friends or family remember that is what is important and that is who you are really here for.
Keep your head up and I hope you have a good week.