A review of occupationally-linked suicide for dentists

Citation Jones LM, Cotter R, Birch KM. N. Zeal. Dent. J. 2016; 112(2): 39-46.
Copyright (Copyright © 2016, New Zealand Dental Association)

Abstract BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Suicide rates among dentists and a perceived elevated risk for suicide have been debated in the academic literature. It has filtered into the public psyche that dentists have the highest suicide rate of any occupation. The present review seeks support for both protagonist and antagonist positions from multidisciplinary perspectives. Contemporary risk factors and strategies for intervention and the prevention of suicide in dentistry are explored.

METHODS: An online database search for articles and reports, with selected target words, was conducted for peer reviewed publications on suicide in the dental profession, and for factors contributing to dentist suicide. Review guidelines from the American Psychological Association were used to clarify concepts, identify where most work was focussed, and to explore the superiority of any approach to the emotive topic over another.

RESULTS: Findings suggest the dominant belief that dentists have an elevated risk of suicide may be historically, but not currently, accurate. Although dentists' suicide is trending down, diversity in methodology means no current consensus is possible. Factors found to be influencing dentists' suicide ranged from known occupational stressors, to toxins and substance abuse, and untreated mental health problems.

CONCLUSION: The contemporary position in New Zealand shows dentists per sé are not more likely than other health professionals to commit suicide although they may have been in the past. Dentists should be aware of individual susceptibility to burnout and mental health problems. Future directions are outlined to address this including peer intervention, and programmes


Popular Posts