BACKGROUND: Some studies have shown that physicians and dentists have elevated risks of suicide, while other studies have not. AIMS: Using all deaths and corresponding census data in 26 US states, we examine the suicide risk for working physicians and dentists. METHODS: Death and census data for working people were obtained from 1984 through 1992. Directly age-standardized suicide rate ratios (SRRs) were calculated for white male and white female physicians and white male dentists. RESULTS: For white female physicians, the suicide rate was elevated compared to the working US population (SRR = 2.39, 95% CI = 1.52-3.77). For white male physicians and dentists, the overall suicide rates were reduced (SRR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.53-1.20 and 0.68, 95% CI = 0.52-0.89, respectively). For older white male physicians and dentists, however, observed suicide rates were elevated. CONCLUSIONS: White female physicians have an elevated suicide rate. Only older white male physicians and dentists have elevated suicide rates, which partially explains the varied conclusions in the literature.
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