Since 1933, the public and the media have considered dentists as being suicide prone. Unfortunately, this message is repeated as a fact, though there is no supportive data for it. Furthermore, there is no proof for the allegations that dentists have higher rates of alcoholism, addiction and divorces.
Stress accompanies the dental practice all the time, and of course, stress can be a strong contributing factor in most suicide attempts. But, can stress of dental occupation cause high rates of suicide attempts among dentists?
In 1997, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death in USA. According to National Center for Health Statistics, there were almost thirty one thousands Americans who committed suicide in 1996. There is no official reliable data published about the prevalence of suicide attempts among dentists alone. Generally, the rate of suicide attempts are higher in whites more than non-whites (ratio of 2.7 to 1) and among men more than women (ratio of 4 to 1), the states of high incidence of committing suicides are; Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arkansas, Montana, and Colorado.
In 1975, the American Dental Association(ADA) published a research revealing that the collected data from thirty-one states didn’t give the support for the allegations that dentists are more susceptible to commit suicide than general population, while in 1984, Dental Management Magazine published a survey for three thousand dentists with fifty percent response rate, the results showed that about seven percent of dentists in this survey stated that they have thought of committing suicide at some time during their entire dental career, while sixteen percent of the responded dentists admitted that they were very stressful.
In 1977, Bureau of Economic Research and Statistics of ADA, evaluated the collected data in an attempt to decide whether there are some specific working conditions in dental practice that can lead to suicide; they reached a conclusion that the overall death rates among dentists are lower than their equivalent ages in general population, actually, seventy-three percent of dentists live to the age of 64 and older. Furthermore, Bureau of Economic Research and Statistics didn’t find strong data on any potential reasons of suicide.
Nowadays, the main problem is that there is a marked deficiency in suicide database; in fact, there are no recent reports on the incidence of suicide among dentists from American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Insurance Institute and eleven of the biggest life insurance companies in USA. Therefore, until now, the complete understanding of prevalence, causes, and prevention of suicide rates among dentists is still vague.
In conclusion; there is no reliable statistical evidence available to verify that dentists are suicide prone; moreover, the most trusted official information suggests the opposite. Do you really believe that dentists are more stressed than a police officer or ER physician?