Suicides among health care professionals are estimated to occur at a higher rate than in the general public.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) have partnered together to establish Pharmacy Workforce Suicide Awareness Day, which will be observed annually on September 20, as part of Suicide Prevention Month.1,2
Suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death for Americans in 2021, according to data from the CDC,3 and suicides are estimated to be higher among health care professionals compared with the general population.3 While research has been conducted into suicide rates among nurses and physicians, little is known about pharmacist suicide, according to the authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.4 Those authors found that the suicide rate among pharmacists is 20 per 100,000 individuals—higher than the general population rate of 12 per 100,000 individuals.
“Members of the pharmacy workforce encounter unique stressors throughout their education, training, and careers, which places them and other health care professionals at higher risk of experiencing occupational burnout, moral injury, and mental health crises,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD.1,2 “Death by suicide is a tragic but preventable loss to individuals, organizations, and our profession.”
“By collectively raising awareness of this grave issue, we are calling on members of our profession to support each other by urging conversation, decreasing stigma, recognizing warning signs, and intervening when necessary,” he continued.1,2
“Death by suicide among pharmacists occurs at nearly twice the rate as non-pharmacists, a statistic that is wholly unacceptable and completely heartbreaking,” added Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, executive vice president and CEO of APhA.1,2 “I’m proud of the work we have been able to do to establish this day of recognition and partner with so many other organizations who recognize the pressing need to address the root causes of work-related burnout and hopelessness resulting in suicide."
Both ASHP and APhA have created toolkits sharing resources for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists. The ASHP toolkit is available here,5 and the APhA toolkit is available here.6