Med school burnout the root of doctor suicides?

Medical students are 62 percent more likely than other people to have suicidal thoughts – the result of depression and burnout, said researchers seeking clues for heading off suicides by doctors.

A survey of 4,287 medical students in the U.S. showed that 11 percent considered suicide in the year before the study, compared with 6.9 percent of people age 25 to 34 in the general population, according to a report today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Physicians have higher suicide rates than are seen in other professions. Compared with the overall population, male doctors are 40 percent more likely, and female physicians more than twice as likely, to kill themselves, according to previous research.

“The increased risk for suicide among physicians may begin in medical school,” scientists for the new study wrote.

The researchers said an association between burnout and suicidal thoughts hadn't been previously reported.