Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Systematic Review on Gender-Specific Suicide Mortality in Medical Doctors

  • Sari Lindeman (a1), Esa Läärä (a2), Helinä Hakko (a3) and Jouko Lönnqvist (a4)



So far no comprehensive systematic review has been published about epidemiologic studies on suicides among medical practitioners. The aim here is to describe the variation of published estimates of relative risk of doctors to die from suicide.


A systematic review of published original articles on population-based studies, registered mainly in MEDLINE and fulfilling specific methodological requirements. Incidence rates and standardised mortality ratios were calculated for male and female doctors in relation to the reference groups.


The estimated relative risk varied from 1.1 to 3.4 in male doctors, and from 2.5 to 5.7 in female doctors, respectively as compared with the general population, and from 1.5 to 3.8 in males and from 3.7 to 4.5 in females, respectively, as compared with other professionals. The crude suicide mortality rate was about the same in male and female doctors.


In all studies the suicide rates among doctors were higher than those in the general population and among other academic occupational groups.


Corresponding author

Sari Lindeman, University of Oulu, Department of Psychiatry, Kajaanintie 43, 90220 Oulu, Finland


Hide All
Arnetz, B. B., Hórte, L. G., Hedberg, A., et al (1987) Suicide patterns among physicians related to other academics as well as to the general population. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 75, 139143.
Bämayr, A. & Feuerlein, W. (1986) Suicidhäufigkeit bei Ärzten und Zahnärzten in Oberbayern. Social Psychiatry, 21, 3948.
Bedeian, A. G. (1982) Suicide and occupation: a review. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 21, 206223.
Borgan, J. K. & Kristofersen, L. B. (1986) Mortality by occupation and socioeconomic group in Norway 1970–1980. Statistiske analyser 56. Statistik Sentralbyrå, Oslo.
Breslow, N. E. & Day, N. E. (1987) Statistical Methods in Cancer Research, Volume III – The Design and Analysis of Cohort Studies. IARC Scientific Publications No 82, Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer.
British Medical Association (1993) The Morbidity and Mortality of the Medical Profession. London: BMA.
Dean, G. (1969) The causes of death of South African doctors and dentists. South African Medical Journal, 26, 495500.
Dickersin, K., Scherer, R. & Lefebvre, C. (1994) Identifying relevant studies for systematic reviews. British Medical Journal, 309, 12861291.
Editorial (1994) Burnished or burnt out: the delights and dangers of working in health. Lancet, 344, 15831584.
Farberow, N. L. (1971) Bibliography on Suicide and Suicide Prevention 1897–1957 and 1958–1970. National Institute of Mental Health, Helsinki.
Harris, E.C. & Barraclough, B. M. (1994) Suicide as an outcome for medical disorders. Medicide, 73, 281296.
Lindhardt, M., Frandsen, E., Hamtoft, H., et al (1963) Causes of death among the medical profession in Denmark. Danish Medical Bulletin, 10, 5964.
News (1994) Doctors are more miserable than ever, says report. British Medical Journal, 309, 1529.
Nordentoft, M. (1988) Selvmord blandt læger. Ugeskrift for Lager, 150, 24402443.
Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1986) Occupational Mortality 1979–80, 1982–83 decennial supplement. Part I, Commentary. Series DS No. 6. London: HMSO.
Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1986) Occupational Mortality 1979–80, 1982–83, decennial supplement. Part II, Microfiche tables. Series DS No. 6. HMSO, London.
Revicki, D. A. & May, H. J. (1985) Physician suicide in North Carolina. Southern Medical Journal, 78, 12051207.
Richings, J. C., Khara, G. S. & McDowell, M. (1986) Suicide in young doctors. British Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 475478.
Rimpelä, A. H., Nurminen, M. M., Pulkkinen, P. O., et al (1987) Mortality of doctors: do doctors benefit from their medical knowledge. Lancet, 10, 8486.
Rose, K. D. & Rosow, I. (1973) Physicians who kill themselves. Archives of General Psychiatry, 29, 800805.
Roy, A. & Linnoila, M. (1986) Alcoholism and suicide. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 16, 244273.
Rucinski, J. & Cybulska, E. (1985) Mentally ill doctors. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 33, 9094.
Schlicht, S. M., Gordon, I. R., Ball, J. R., et al (1990) Suicide and related deaths in Victorian doctors. Medical Journal of Australia, 153, 518521.
Stefansson, C. G. & Wicks, S. (1991) Health care occupations and suicide in Sweden 1961–1985. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 26, 259264.
Steppacher, R. C. & Mausner, J. S. (1974) Suicide in male and female physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association, 228, 323328.
Ullmann, D., Phillips, R. L., Beeson, L., et al (1991) Cause-specific mortality among physicians with differing life-styles. Journal of the American Medical Association, 265, 23522359.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

A Systematic Review on Gender-Specific Suicide Mortality in Medical Doctors

  • Sari Lindeman (a1), Esa Läärä (a2), Helinä Hakko (a3) and Jouko Lönnqvist (a4)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.

A Systematic Review on Gender-Specific Suicide Mortality in Medical Doctors

  • Sari Lindeman (a1), Esa Läärä (a2), Helinä Hakko (a3) and Jouko Lönnqvist (a4)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *