Growing up, one of my favorite T.V. programs was “M*A*S*H.” It was one of the most popular shows of that era, based upon a popular novel and movie of the same title. As an aspiring physician, I was particularly drawn to it. Anyone even remotely familiar with that show is likely well aware of its iconic theme song. What is perhaps less well known is the song’s title: “Suicide Is Painless.” The song and its title are derived from a scene in the film in which the “M*A*S*H” unit’s dentist, Captain Walter “Painless Pole” Waldowski, attempts suicide.

I have been reflecting recently on that song, in light of our increasing awareness of the growing crisis within health care – and particularly within our specialty – of physician suicide. More than a century before the 1970 release of “M*A*S*H,” we...

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