LEFO - Legeforskningsinstituttet

Institute for Studies of the Medical Profession


Suicide rates from 1960 to 1989 in Norwegian physicians compared with other educational groups

Aasland OG, Ekeberg O, Schweder T. Soc Sci Med 2001; 52 (2): 259-65.
13. september 2001

Article in English.

Abstract on Pubmed:

The aim of the present study is to compare suicide rates between 1960 and 1989 for Norwegian physicians with corresponding rates for other Norwegians with and without university education, by age, gender, and five-year period, based on death certificates for all Norwegians who died in the period 1960-1989. There were 82 registered physician suicides, of which 9 were female, 265 suicides by persons with other university education, and 11,165 by persons with no university education. Suicide rate is measured in number of deaths per 100,000 person years. Crude suicide rates were 47.7 (95% CI 37.7-60.4) for male physicians, 20.1 (17.7-22.9) for other male university graduates, and 22.7 (22.2-23.2) for men with no university education. The corresponding figures for females were 32.3 (15.8-63.7), 13.0 (8.4-19.8) and 7.7 (7.5-8.0). Both for males and females, suicide rates, controlled for age and period, were significantly higher for physicians than for persons with other or no university education. Poisson modelling showed that the risk of suicide for male physicians has the same age pattern as for other males with higher education. In 1985-89 the suicide rate for male physicians increased nearly linearly from about 35 at the age 35-40 to about 100 at the age 75-79, which was almost three times higher than for the other male university graduates. For the age group 50-54 the estimated rate increases from about 50 in 1960-64 to about 90 in 1985-89. For the female physicians, the low number of cases prevents reliable estimation of trends. For male physicians, the trend from 1960 to 1989 is increasing. The estimated risk for a single physician to commit suicide was almost 5 times that of a married or co-habitant colleague. For 52% of the male and 85% of the female physicians the suicide method was poisoning. This is about twice the rates in the general population.