06:09am Saturday 04 April 2020

Miller School Reignites Effort to Raise Suicide Awareness

The growing suicide epidemic recently hit close to home with the deaths of two faculty members and two former Miller School medical students during their residencies.

The personal nature of the recent tragic deaths has led to a fervent commitment by the Miller School’s faculty, staff and students to this year’s Out of the Darkness community walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year’s walk is scheduled for Sunday, October 23, at 10 a.m. on the Coral Gables campus.

In memory of Richard Iacino, chief of staff to Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., “Team Iacino” has been formed. Those who knew Richard and want to honor his life are encouraged to register for the walk.

“As the recently elected president of the South Florida Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I implore all of you to join us for this important event,” said Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Having experienced our own loss at the Miller School, with Richard, we hope to use this event as a way to remember his life and raise awareness.

“For a variety of reasons, ranging from the marked increase in suicide among our military to the ongoing concerns about our struggling economy, we have witnessed a sharp rise in suicide rates this year,” says Nemeroff. “Helping to educate the public about the warning signs and treatment of emergent suicidality is essential in addressing this major public health problem.”

The walks are designed to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention while also raising funds for research. The event is also an effort to reach out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

Tragically, the medical profession is one of the areas hardest hit by suicide. According to two recent studies, there are 300 physician suicides each year, which is almost triple the rate in the general population. The rate among male physicians is 40 percent higher than among non-physicians and among female physicians it is 130 percent higher than non-physicians.

“The research suggests the problem starts long before a physician goes into practice — it begins with the stress of medical school,” said Ana Campo, M.D., associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences and assistant dean for student affairs. “A high percentage of medical students report feeling burned out at some point during medical school training. This feeling of being burned out may in some cases contribute to suicidal ideation.”

Free medical services are available to Miller School medical students and graduate students who are experiencing mental health issues through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at 305-243-2774.

In addition, any employee of the Miller School or UHealth can take advantage of the University’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program by calling 305-284-6604.

For more information on how to participate in this year’s Out of the Darkness community walk, visit the website, or call 305-776-3889.

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