What? Physician Suicide?


I watched many friends become drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally unstable during my years of medical practice. The most difficult for me, personally, was a beautiful young woman who was assigned to be my mentor as I entered the Physician Assistant Program at USC…  And, as is common in these cases, she continued to act professionally so as not to leak any signs [of] tears, hesitancy or depression…

On one hot Los Angeles summer day, she had just left the USC County Hospital where her rotation had been. She drove down the street toward the freeway entrance. At the stoplight just before the entrance, she stopped for the red light. She had enough time to pull the gun out that she had sitting on the passenger seat, and shot herself in the head.

There was a USC physician behind her and saw the whole thing. He tried valiantly to save her, but it was not to be. This amazingly smart, and gorgeous twenty-eight year old, with the world at her fingertips was gone in a blink of an eye. This happens too many times in the medical field. We deserve mental care as much as our patients do. It should not cost us our career.

Dr. Wible had this interview on “BOLD” the other day. Please listen. If you find it interesting, please share. We need to make the world aware.


This is the Drug War


“He [Kalief Browder] wanted the public to know what he had gone through, so that nobody else would have to endure the same ordeals…  Browder could be a very private person, and he told almost nobody about meeting O’Donnell or Jay Z. “

I dislike having to publish my ordeals involving intractable pain, probably as much as you dislike reading about them.  But not only do I hope that my personal information may help other pain patients, since our stories are not being told in the media or in front of the politicians who make all the rules and regulations, I also hope my blog serves as a public record of what pain patients have to go through to find and access treatment.

I’m sorry if my struggles are sad and depressing, but think about how I feel.  This is my life.  I’ve had to face these struggles every moment of every day for the past 30 years.  I wish I could keep my medical and personal information private, but privacy is a luxury I can no longer afford.  This, my friends, is the Drug War.

Kalief Browder, 1993–2015

We know that abuse can cause the mental illness of addiction, but this story makes me think that abuse can also cause conditions like schizophrenia.  John Oliver tackles the subjects of jail, bail, and bounty hunters in his most recent show, which as usual, was both informative and funny.


Last fall, I wrote about a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not committed. Then he spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened. During that time, he endured about two years in solitary confinement, where he attempted to end his life several times…

Ever since I’d met him, Browder had been telling me stories about having been abused by officers and inmates on Rikers. The stories were disturbing, but I did not fully appreciate what he had experienced until this past April when I obtained surveillance footage of an officer assaulting him and of a large group of inmates pummeling and kicking him…

Two empty bottles of Browder’s antipsychotic drug sat on a table. Was it possible that taking the drug had caused him to commit suicide? Or could he have stopped taking it and become suicidal as a result? …

His relatives recounted stories he’d told them about being starved and beaten by guards on Rikers. They spoke about his paranoia, about how he often suspected that the cops or some other authority figures were after him. His mother explained that the night before he told her, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.” …

Thinking of you, Anthony Riley


The 28-year-old busker from Philadelphia appeared on the talent show in February, becoming the fastest ever contestant to be chosen by all four judges – Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and country singer Blake Shelton. He selected Williams to be his “coach” for the remainder of the competition, but dropped out after winning his first “battle round” to seek treatment for substance abuse problems.

Close friends told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Riley was found dead at his apartment in the city centre on Friday (June 5) having taken his own life. In March, Riley told the newspaper that he had successfully completed a two-week course of treatment in rehab and was beginning work on an album…

To Dr. Joanna Katzman, University of New Mexico

Mon, Jun 8, 2015 2:31 am

From:  painkills2@aol
To:  jkatzman@salud.unm.edu

Re:  An alternative to suicide?

Dear Dr. Katzman:

I have suffered from intractable pain for 30 years. I moved from Texas to New Mexico for the Medical Cannabis Program, but after a year as a member, I could no longer afford the program. Because my case is so complex, I am writing to you in the hope that you can help me. Right now, I’m looking for an alternative for pain management other than suicide and a lawsuit for the right to die as a non-terminal patient.

My pain was treated with prescription medications for 10 years before I was abandoned by my doctor. Prior to moving to New Mexico, I suffered through a cold-turkey detox, and now, I no longer take any prescription medications. I have developed my own home treatment program, but without medical cannabis, it is no longer sufficient. In other words, I am in agony.

With Medicare, I may be able to afford treatment through a doctor. But as a long-term pain patient who’s tried just about everything (including surgery), and considering the escalation of the war against pain medications, my options for non-invasive treatment appear to be few and far between. In fact, I don’t think I have any options through the medical industry, especially since the treatments I suffered through before choosing drug therapy just increased my pain levels.

I’m sorry to use email for communicating with you, but I don’t have a phone. The move and a year in the Medical Cannabis Program has wiped me out financially. I couldn’t even afford to see a doctor to update my Long Term Disability insurance, and my benefits have since been terminated.

Since you’re the top pain management expert in New Mexico and the Director of Project ECHO, what do you think I should do?

Johnna Stahl