Can I Become a Doctor If I Have Attempted Suicide?
Recently, one of my search referral logs revealed the question, “Can I Become a Doctor if I Have Attempted Suicide?” This is a very specific question and I’m afraid I don’t have the technical answer to it on my site.
But the question itself saddened me. Mostly because someone would think that they couldn’t become a doctor just because of a suicide attempt. A suicide attempt should neither limit how people see you nor how you see yourself.
Can I Become a Doctor After a Suicide Attempt?
Now, to answer the technical question: I see no reason why not. To the best of my knowledge medical schools, just like everyone else, would require written permission from you to access your medical records and so they should have no way of finding out that you attempted suicide. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong on that.
There is Nothing Shameful about a Suicide AttemptBut to answer the deeper question: there’s no reason that you can’t become anything you want to be just because of a prior act. I understand that a suicide attempt might be embarrassing and a source of shame and secrecy but I would ask that you remember that a suicide attempt is, primarily, the symptom of an illness that is not your fault.
And, believe it or not, there is nothing shameful about a suicide attempt. It’s estimated that 5% of people attempt suicide at some point in their lives (that’s 1-in-20 folks) and the rate of suicidal ideation is between 10-14%.
You are not alone in your struggles. In fact, you’re in excellent company.
Famous People Who Have Attempted Suicide
Some others who have attempted suicide:
- Halle Berry – actor
- Greg Louganis – Olympian
- Mike Wallace – news anchor
- Drew Barrymore – actor and producer
- Sammy Davis Jr. – entertainer
- Kay Redfield Jamison – Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins
- Walt Disney
- Ken Griffey Jr. – professional baseball player
- And so many more
And while you might think these people are special – they’re not. They’re just like you. They are just people who had some really severe problems that they couldn’t see their way out of, temporarily. In the long run these people got treatment, got better and committed great acts. And so can you.
And maybe one day you will use the fact that you once attempted suicide to your advantage. Maybe that will help you understand your patients with mental illness better. Maybe that will give you an increased sense of compassion. Maybe that desperation you felt will spur you on to help others. Maybe you will turn that very negative experience into a positive on.
So yes, if you’ve attempted suicide you can still become a doctor; in fact, maybe even a better than average one.
Other Breaking Bipolar Writings on Suicide
- You Think There is Only Darkness and Hopelessness - You are Wrong
- Why Do Doctors ask (Dumb) Questions about Suicide?
- For Loved Ones After a Suicide Attempt
- Why Do People Ignore Suicide Threats Online?
- Are Suicide Threats a Cry for Attention?
Tracy, N. (2012, September 10). Can I Become a Doctor If I Have Attempted Suicide?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/09/can-i-become-a-doctor-if-i-have-attempted-suicide
Author: Natasha Tracy
They're not exempt from these things.