William R. Taylor, MD

Intravenous Hope, Stat!

Intravenous Hope, Stat! examines the causes and the effects of health professionals' suicides.

We trust doctors not to kill us.

Can we trust them not to kill themselves?

A quote from the Preface of
Intravenous Hope, Stat!:

Working on this book introduced me to one of the toughest cases of self-doubt I've ever encountered:

Find out how I got past my doubts, by downloading your $3.49 copy from amazon order page

From the Ending of Intravenous Hope, Stat!

Possible solutions for doctors with chronic illness*

The article summarized here does not describe suicidal doctors, but the recommendations could help mitigate some of the factors that lead up to suicidal thinking.

1. Improve or develop career guidance or counseling services for doctors whose careers may be jeopardized through ill health

2. Improve medical staffing levels to ensure doctors are able to take time off for short periods without an unreasonable increase in their colleagues' workload

3. Improve occupational health services and training so that consultant led services are accessible to all doctors

4. Ensure that appropriate attitudes towards doctors' health problems are encouraged in medical school and beyond

5. Ensure secured funding for retraining doctors who cannot continue in their chosen career because of ill health

*Adapted from Taking Care of Doctors' Health: Reducing Avoidable Stress and Improving Services for Doctors who Fall Ill produced by Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, London, January 1996

Summing Up Final Chapter

A suicidal health professional might search unsuccessfully or successfully for web sites that speak directly to their condition; I hope that one or another reference in this book might be useful.

Some professionals never discuss their decision to kill themselves. Peers, family or friends may hesitate to bring up their concerns about the professional's state of mind.

The general advice to peers and family is to go ahead and ask if you think the person may be depressed, exhausted, apathetic, withdrawn, or suffering in any way. The excerpt just above summarizes some of the ways to improve access to help. Various other resources appear in earlier chapters and the Appendix. Would-be helpers need to bear in mind the fears of many professionals that exposing their vulnerabilities could lead to a temporary loss of license and/or possible alienation of referral sources.

This concludes what I hope has been a helpful journey through some of the most difficult terrain I know. I hope that readers who are at risk for self-harm will take the step of seeking help from one of the many sources in their region or even online.

After all, we can ask only that you try a source of help, or try a new source if the last one didn't prove satisfactory. We can't insist that you immediately change your mind about suicide. Rather, your colleagues, family, and I hope that you can defer that decision, at least for the time it takes to "see somebody."

As I mentioned earlier, my experience with a severe post-viral lassitude syndrome gave me a first-hand awareness of the desolate mental landscape of profound apathy that some of you are managing to survive, day after day.

No one should have to live that way, when the right kind of help could make a difference. Now, having reached the age of eighty, I find myself in tears as I write these closing words, hoping that I have made a wise decision in writing this book, and that you will have made a wise decision in reading at least some of it.

May your search continue, and end in peace, for you and those around you.