September 12, 2023

Commemorating National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

The Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORD), in collaboration with ACEP, AAEM, ACOEP, EMRA, RSA, RSO, and SAEM have come together to annually dedicate September 17th as National Physician Suicide Awareness (NPSA) Day. The organizations issued Vision Zero, calling on "individuals, residency programs, health care organizations and national groups to make a commitment to break down stigma, increase awareness, open the conversation, decrease the fear of consequences, reach out to colleagues, recognize warning signs and learn to approach our colleagues who may be at risk."


ACEP President Chris Kang, MD, FACEP, has made physician mental health one of his presidential priorities. 

"As burnout continues to escalate, our vulnerability has never been higher," said Dr. Kang. "If you feel lost or need help, please reach out and consider the resources, whether it be a family member, friend, peer, the 988 line or counselor. If you know someone who may need assistance, please listen and let them know they are not alone. Together, we can better take care of our patients and each other.”

Thanks to the passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act in 2022, there are now more resources going to address clinician burnout, mental health, and suicide prevention. ACEP's work is not done. We continue working with our congressional champions like Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to build upon the legacy of the law that carries Dr. Breen's name.

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Legislative Progress: It's been an important year for physician mental health. In March 2022, after two years of tireless advocacy, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was signed into law. This law is an important step to protect emergency physicians whose emotional health and wellbeing suffered even before this prolonged pandemic, and it helps preserve the memory and legacy of Dr. Breen and other health care workers who have suffered in silence. Key features of this bill include:

  • Major steps to reduce and prevent suicide and burnout by creating behavioral health and well-being training programs.
  • Support for a national campaign to encourage health care professionals to seek support and treatment.
  • A federal study into health care professional mental health and burnout.
  • Grants to establish and expand mental health support services.

Read more about how ACEP is supporting physician mental health. 

Personal Perspectives: In 2021, Dr. Scott Pasichow wrote a personal essay for ACEP Now about his own mental health journey, including how he and his family dealt with his depression and suicidal thoughts during his residency. A year later, he's on the newest episode of ACEP Nowcast talking about his progress and how sharing his story has helped others. Dr. Pasichow talks about what he's still learning, how important it is to break down stigmas and his ongoing efforts to prioritize physician mental health on the local, state and federal level.

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