OBJECTIVE: Studies examining suicide rates for medical students have
yielded conflicting data. This article addresses medical student suicide
from August 1989 through May 1994. METHOD: Telephone interviews were
conducted with a representative from each U.S. medical school, generally
the dean of student affairs. If a suicide had occurred, information
regarding demographic characteristics, psychiatric or substance abuse
history, means of suicide, month, and presence of a suicide note was
obtained. RESULTS: Responses were obtained from 101 (80%) of the 126 U.S.
medical schools. Responding schools reported 15 suicides by medical
students from August 1989 through May 1994. Fourteen were by men. Six
suicides were committed during the third year of medical school, and four
occurred during the fourth year. Six students left notes, and nine of 13
had psychiatric histories. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate a lower
suicide rate than that found in previous studies and emphasize the need for
standardized reporting methods.