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Shine a light, speak its name | National Suicide Awareness Day

Published Date:

Tuesday, Sept. 17, was the second annual National Suicide Awareness Day. At SIU Medicine, faculty, staff and learners took a moment of silence to remember, mourn, pay tribute to and send love to those in our community lost to suicide. The annual day of remembrance and awareness was begun last year by residency program directors in Emergency Medicine to commemorate those in health care that we have lost to suicide and raise awareness of the problem and how to get help.

So - raising awareness. There are some pretty difficult facts that have come into focus in the last few years. One is that the rate of suicide is higher in physicians than in the general population. It's worse for women than for men, and worse for young folks (medical students and residents) than older physicians. We lose at least 300 doctors to suicide every year - or put another way, 1 million patients a year lose at least one of their doctors to suicide.

The reasons for this problem are myriad - but there are some things we can definitely work on. One is that suicide is taboo and people need permission to talk about it and grieve together about it. That's why gathering together for a moment of silence on campus is being planned. Another thing we can do is make sure we all know that we can reach out for help and someone to talk to when we're feeling isolated and hopeless. For students, I would urge you to reach out to the Student Affairs staff at any time to be put quickly in touch with resources to help. For employees, HR can put you in touch with the Employee Assistance Program. In addition, I offer these links:

Lastly: community. We hope to build this annual awareness day into a yearly, cross campus event. If you'd like to help plan future community events, please contact me at

Dr. Todd


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