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Med Students, Doctors, Others Gather To Prevent Physician Suicide

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Experts say an estimated 400 physicians and medical students commit suicide each year, more than practitioners of any other profession.

In nearly a dozen cities nationwide Saturday, including Philadelphia, health care professionals, students, family members and others gathered to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem.

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine student Akshay Roy attended the Day of Solidarity after learning a fellow med student in New York recently took her own life.

"She was a third year student and now I'm starting my third year rotations," he says, "and I can see where the stress just builds up and really takes a toll on mental health."

He says everyone at the event -- held at the Philadelphia County Medical Center on Spring Garden Street -- was there to help each other:

"A lot of times we get the sense that everyone is judging us, but really we're concerned."

Therapist SaraKay Smullens addressing the crowdcredit cbs

Roy was joined by other students, doctors and therapists like SaraKay Smullens, who wrote a book on physician suicide:

"The suicide rate in medicine is 1.4 times larger than in other professions."

For reasons, she says, ranging from burnout to cost of running a practice to fear of malpractice lawsuits, to name a few:

"Doctors are dealing with so much stress."

Second year PCOM student Evan Gooberman can relate:

"I've dealt with mental health stuff before, particularly anxiety."

Lacey Kohlmoos helped organize the National Day of Solidarity to Prevent Physician Suicide throughout the nation...

"To show those who are struggling alone and in silence that they're not alone, and that they should and can get help."

Suicide usually isn't talked about openly, which is why most in attendance in Philadelphia agree, more events like this need to happen.

After the planned speakers, anyone in attendance got to speak out about what's on their minds regarding the issue.

The Day of Solidarity ended with a "candlelight" vigil where instead of flames, signs reading "Do No Harm To Patients, Do No Harm To Doctors' were held up by everyone in attendance.

That's when the names of over 100 physicians and med students who committed suicide were read.

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