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07/05/2019    Norman Rubin, DPM

Preventing Suicides of Podiatric Residents (Peter Bellezza, DPM

My partner of thirty years tragically committed
suicide just as we had sold our practice and were
about to retire. He was financially secure and
was looking forward to his retirement. In
addition to being my partner, he was my best
friend. You would have thought that if anyone
should have seen the warning signs early on, that
I would have seen them.

About a month before he committed suicide
however, I noticed a significant change in his
personality. I spoke with my partner about my
observations, but he insisted that he was doing
fine. Nevertheless, I was concerned and didn’t
think that he was “doing fine.” I spoke to his
wife and then decided to call his son. His son
met with my partner and asked his father to see a
mental health professional the next day, but it
was too late.

Suicide is usually caused by mental health
issues. The “right to die movement” as championed
by groups such as Death with Dignity and
Compassion and Choices is an exception. I am
certain that stress, no matter where it comes
from, can exacerbate a mental health condition,
which can lead to suicide. It is inexplicable to
me that my partner, about to enter his
retirement, would commit suicide. Even today, I
find myself trying to understand my partner’s
irrational act. The fact is, that committing
suicide, is usually not rational.

If you are working alongside someone, and you see
that they are stressed out and not doing well
mentally, do your best to have them see a mental
health professional sooner rather than later. I,
tragically, was not astute enough to see mental
health changes in my partner sooner than I did. I
don’t know if I could have prevented this tragedy
if I had acted sooner, but I guess I will always
wonder if I could have made a difference.

Norman Rubin, DPM, Olney, MD

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