on dentists having high suicide rates 
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 on dentists having high suicide rates

Subject:      Re: dentist & suicide rates

     Some time ago a question was raised about research on
suicide rates among dentists. It's been perhaps two years
since I researched this issue. The most comprehensive review
of the evidence on this topic that I have in my files is an article
by Irwin Mandel, DDS, "Occupational risks in dentistry,"
JADA 124:41-49 (1993). The article reviews ten studies,
nearly all of which indicate dentist suicide rates are above
average for the rest of the population, and then concludes
that "the notion that dentists commit suicide more often
than other professionals . . . should be viewed with

     Since this is an article published by the Journal of
the American Dental Association, one must have one's
BS antenna jacked up about 20 feet. My BS antenna pick
up two problems immediately. First, the conclusion cleverly
restricts is scope to "other professionals" whereas much of the
literature discussed in this review compared dentists to
the entire population, not "other professionals." Several  
of the studies I have indicate that suicide rates are
higher among physicians, dentists, attorneys and other
professionals. Secondly, according to Mandel himself, nine of the ten
discussed in this article reported "elevated" suicide rates among

     The one study that showed dentist suicide rates to be "about the
same as
for other white males of comparable age" was described by Mandel as
"the most
comprehensive" (Orner G, Mumma Rd Jr., "Mortality study of dentists;
report, prepared for the National Institute for Occupational Safety
Health." Philadelphia: Temple University, 1976. DHW, PHS, CDC, DHEW
HSM-99-72-72). But it is not clear to me that this study deserves to
be called
the "most comprehensive." It certainly had a huge sample size
(102,726), but
it covered only a five-year period (1960-65). At least two other
covered longer periods of time. One of these (by Glass) covered the
1921 to 1960 and reported that dentists commit suicide at 1.23 times
the while
male population rate (Glass Rl, "Mortality of New England dentists
US Dept of Health, Ed and Welfare. Public Health Service. Radiology
Division, Washington DC 1966). The other reported that Iowa dentists
themselves at 1.6 times the rate at which comparable age-sex groups
themselves. This study covered a 12-year period. Hold your breath: it
in JADA (Roger Simpson et al., "Suicide rates of dentists in Iowa,
JADA, 107: 441-443 (1983).

     Why we should "view with skepticism" the "notion" that dentists
higher suicide rates when we know that a substantial number of
dentists have
much higher levels of mercury in their bodies is unclear. Seems more
to "view with skepticism" the denial of said "notion."

Kip Sullivan

Tue, 07 Sep 2004 09:37:53 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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