John Madsen was always a dreamer and a creator. He wrote music and invented stories for our three children that he could share for hours. He said he had a fire that would allow him to create great things, but eventually lost the battle to mental illness. He is survived by three children who will never hear him write them a song. John wanted to heal others. He was an idealist who wanted to be perfect and that burden of perfection may have been part of his death by suicide. I looked back to signs that I didn't know were something I shouldn't ignore.
Everyone tells you that medical school is stressful, but no one tells you when it goes beyond the normal and you should change plans. After his death I remember being frustrated that there wasn't better support for my children. Upset that no one quite knew how to talk about suicide death. John wanted the best care for his children, and part of that legacy should be supporting physicians and improving a system that is not designed to support.
The medical profession and educational system are designed to deal with difficult problems, but one of the problems has become an inability to admit error. I decided to work to improve the system, and improve life today for physicians rather than preaching an idealized utopia. We have lost many great physicians to suicide and we may lose more.
Our mission is to reduce that number, to better understand the cost of physician burnout and suicide to patients and the healthcare system. I want to create a better story for our three children, and honor the memory of all the lives that have been lost.