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September 10, 2020

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.”

One of Us

Marking this moment in 2020 feels especially heavy as we continue to endure one of the most challenging years in emergency medicine history. And this year’s NPSA Day theme “One of us” is especially personal when we consider the recent loss of one of our own.

Dr. Lorna Breen

In late April, Lorna Breen, MD, FACEP, died by suicide after contracting COVID-19 and returning to work at one of the hospitals in New York City that was inundated with coronavirus patients. Her loss was felt around the country, but especially within the emergency medicine community where Dr. Breen was a standout colleague and contributor. Her family created the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation in her honor with a mission to improve mental health support for healthcare heroes. Learn more about her story and its ongoing impact:

  • Speaking the UnspeakableACEP Now, September 2020|
    After Dr. Breen died by suicide in April, her family took up a cause they never wanted. Read their story of grief and persistence as it continues to unfold.
  • “The Pandemic’s Toll: An Emergency Physician’s Suicide” Annals of Emergency Medicine, September 2020
    This article examines barriers that often prevent physicians from seeking support, along with ideas for what institutions can do to preserve and protect the health of emergency physicians.

Advance the Cause

Urge Congress to support the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, recently introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives to support, protect, and provide resources to emergency physicians and other health care workers who are facing physical and mental stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill would take major steps to reduce and prevent suicide and burnout and alleviate other mental health concerns that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

More Support & Resources

The Physician Wellness Hub is ACEP's one-stop-shop for physician mental health resources, including peer support options, free counseling or wellness coaching, advocacy updates and a library of tools and resources organized by source of stress and wellness topic.

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