Friday, June 5, 2015

Doctors and Suicide

Blah blah, why do physicians commit suicide so much? It must be stress, right? After all, doctors are really stressed. They work a lot in order to make $90K plus with full benefits in a sleepy rural practice with regular business hours, or two or three times that by busting their butts a little. And that kind of stress is totally harsh compared to the stress that other professions face. Which is logically why doctors off themselves more.

And dentists, too. And veterinarians and pharmacists. Pharmacists, making $40-70 an hour at the drugstore, have so much more stress that they commit suicide at a much higher rate than drugstore clerks working longer hours in those very same stores for between $7-12/hr. Of course, there are lots of other factors to consider, like the fact that pharmacists are socially respected, while drugstore clerks are not; and, drugstore clerks are overseen by floor supervisors, loss prevention specialists, assistant managers, front end managers, back end managers, general managers, and store directors, while pharmacists are only occasionally overseen by fellow-pharmacist pharmacy managers, who know that it is more difficult to replace them than it is to replace a drugstore clerk.

Maybe it's guilt? Do you suppose doctors commit suicide at a much higher rate than nurses because they feel bad about making 4 times the salary of a nurse, and having supervisory authority over nurses and widespread social respect compared to almost all other professions?

While we're at it, why do lawyers, police officers, and military personnel commit suicide so often? For the ones where live-action combat is required, you can almost believe the whole "stress" thing, except that it's not infantry enlisted and patrol officers who are primarily driving these suicide numbers. This is also (mainly?) desk sergeants, majors who never leave the confines of a heavily secured base, maintenance technicians who fuel and maintain aircraft flying out of Ramstein (which hasn't been attacked since, well, the end of WW2? even before?).

And of course, bankers. High-powered bankers (not the tellers at your local branch, but Wall-street types) seem to commit suicide at a rather amazing rate, also.

Why in the world are all these rich(er) people "committing suicide" so often? Everyone wants to be a doctor and marry a doctor, right? And only people who believe things they hear from America's corporate media actually believe that "being a doctor"--with nigh-guaranteed lifetime middle class access, retirement, and erotic-prospect-enhancement for males--is somehow more suicidally stressful than being a seasonal construction worker who comes within $50 of eviction literally every year (and who has no social respect, a back that is going to give out well before "retirement" age, strong likelihood of injury on the job, etc.). What a load of crap. It would seriously take an American corporate-media-payer-attentioner to accept an explanation anywhere remotely approaching that.

So why do so many doctors commit suicide? And by extension, same question as to the other professions listed above, when combat isn't involved (or is no longer even likely in the future, in the case of the non-special-ops officer corps and domestic police/military desk brass)?

We're assuming, though, aren't we? We're assuming that suicide is actually suicide. Let's break down these professions again a little more closely, and see what connects them.

Professionals at risk of dealing firsthand with domestic or foreign individuals/entities involved in producing or transacting in legal drugs: Physician, dentist, pharmacist, veterinarian.

Professionals at risk of dealing firsthand with domestic or foreign individuals/entities involved in producing or transacting in illegal drugs: Police, military, lawyer.

Professionals at risk of dealing firsthand with enormous financial transactions resulting from the trade in legal drugs. Pharmacist, banker, lawyer.

Professionals at risk of dealing firsthand with enormous financial transactions resulting from the trade in illegal drugs. Military, banker, lawyer.

Professionals at risk of dealing firsthand with large cash transactions resulting from the trade in illegal drugs. Police, banker, lawyer.

Professionals at risk of appearing publicly reliable while also being explicitly, laboratory-study and hands-on aware of the ramifications of drug policy on living, breathing, suffering human beings: Physician, dentist, pharmacist.

Professionals at risk of appearing publicly reliable while also being explicitly, backroom-present and hands-on aware of the ramifications of financial policy on living, breathing, suffering human beings: Police, military, banker, lawyer.

Now, I'm sure that no one around here has seen a secret-agent movie or mob show before. I've actually seen very few myself...I just never understood why lazy fight choreography was supposed to be enjoyable if someone was wearing a wool suit. But I do like to dress up my real world observations some times with anonymous fictional speculation.

So engage with me on a fictional endeavor for a moment. Imagine a world where the trade in opium and coca have been controlled by brutal international criminal syndicates for over two centuries in a row. Imagine that every so often, there's someone who's either naive, good-hearted, or idealistic enough to occasionally do actual due diligence on a source-of-funds issue, or to conduct a controlled study without corporate-governmental monitoring, or to report that one local judge or prosecutor to the assistant chief, or to take his squad out one night to what looked like a landing strip in those hills, just to check and see what's been going on there.

Just imagine.

Theoretically, all of the tasks this one listed above can overlap, like if an experienced pharmacist or physician moves corporate and gets a job managing big (and I do mean big) purchase orders with generic Valium suppliers on the Indian subcontinent, which brings him into contact with DHS and military officers who supervise the inspection and transfer of such substances to make sure that no one gets hurt and nothing gets lost or contaminated (and I would've gotten away with it all, too, if not for you lousy kids). Or a dentist who is honored as a visiting professor in a small but respectable school near a very important region of Thailand, and whose research responsibilities involve signing off on positive test results submitted for approval by local practitioners and reformatting them for the home branch to submit to the FDA, which, ahem, they would of course not do before running their own tests even though it would cost millions. And bankers and lawyers, cops and grunts, can inadvertently end up in the middle of it all, because the former are the ones who legitimize fund-sourcing and keep a paper trail for the money, and the latter are the ones who see planes and container ships being loaded and unloaded, departing and arriving.

Who was it that said that discretion was the better part of valor? Oh yeah--valour. "The better part of Valour, is Discretion." Well, Falstaff live on, don't he? And here we are, we discreet and valorous ones, graciously diagnosing the cowardly among us with "suicide" when they mysteriously turn up dead in the midst of their interrelated careers. You know--all those wimpy suckers who can handle the mean streets of Basra, but mysteriously kill themselves later on at home, or who can handle med school and residency, but off themselves when they're finally past the worst of it and making the big bucks. Plausible stories are pragmatic stories, and a reasonable trader lives to sell another day.

Whatever you do, remember the Maine. And remember that American forces have never engaged in any joint narcotics programs with the Guatemalan Military.

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