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 Physician Depression and Suicide  

Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide

This national awareness campaign encourages help-seeking behavior within the medical community and the cultivation of a supportive environment for physicians with mental disorders in the community at large.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a one-hour HD documentary for PBS stations that looks at the impact of physician suicide through the eyes of two suicide survivors. It also shares the stories of a medical school student coming back from the verge of failure, a surgeon facing the stigmatizing attitudes and policies of his Southern town, and a neurologist whose bipolar disorder introduced her to new areas of research and patient care. In addition, the program offers valuable information about depression, its symptoms, neurobiology and treatment and the continuing effort to destigmatize mental illness.

Good Idea
  • Raise awareness of mood disorders among physicians and the consequences of not treating these, namely suicide
  • Encourage physicians and medical school students to seek treatment for mood disorders
  • Encourage the medical community to support help-seeking in its attitudes and policies
  • Encourage a supportive environment among the general public for physicians in treatment for mood disorders

  • Leap
    State of the Art contributed:
  • campaign development consultation
  • broadcast placement for the centerpiece documentary
  • HD production of a documentary for PBS stations
  • broadcast preparation and promotion
  • HD production of two short videos for use with medical school and physician groups
  • consultation on a nationwide outreach campaign

  • Change
  • The documentary premiered on KCET of Los Angeles in the spring of 2008 and has aired on over 300 PBS stations nationwide.
  • The documentary won a 2008 FREDDIE Award.
  • A companion film targeted to medical school students, titled Out of the Silence: Medical Student Depression and Suicide, was disseminated to medical schools across the country by project partner American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • Media coverage of this campaign has been extensive, with more 15 million impressions to date, and an article in Newsweek.

  • The project was funded through grants from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the American College of Psychiatrists, and from AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walks, including the Walk for Rita.
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