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Doctor Commits Suicide Using Fentanyl at Froedtert Hospital

The resident physician reportedly struggled with depression and alcohol abuse and was hospitalized in 2016 following a suicide attempt.

Doctor Commits Suicide Using Fentanyl at Froedtert Hospital

According to a recent study, suicide is the leading cause of death among male resident physicians.

A physician who took how own life Tuesday morning at Froedtert Hospital struggled with depression and had previously tried to take his own life, according to the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s report.

The man has been identified as 43-year-old Wayne A. Hendrix of New Berlin. The Medical College of Wisconsin’s website listed Hendrix as a resident in anesthesiology, reports The Journal Sentinel.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to the Milwaukee hospital around 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Day after it was reported that Hendrix pointed a gun at another employee before threatening to kill himself and locking himself in an operating room.

SWAT team members, deputies and hospital security evacuated the area to search for Hendrix. He was found barricaded in a room but did not respond to negotiation attempts.

Authorities entered the room after a camera placed under the door showed Hendrix down on the floor. He was pronounced dead around 3:30 a.m., reports Fox 6. His death was caused by “a lethal amount of fentanyl” which he administered himself by logging onto a computer that administers medication, according to the medical examiner.

Hendrix was discovered with an IV in his arm and a loaded gun was found in his pocket, though he had not fired it.

Authorities have not confirmed if Hendrix was at Froedtert as a patient or a physician at the time of his suicide.

Hendrix had reportedly struggled with depression, had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was having issues with his ex-wife who has custody of their two young children in Utah where he attended medical school.

Hendrix’s brother, Travis, told investigators that he and his family thought Hendrix had been seeing a psychiatrist and he was prescribed medication. He also says his brother struggled with alcohol addiction and was hospitalized in 2016 following a suicide attempt.

Suicide Leading Cause of Death in Male Resident Physicians

According to a study published in May in the journal Academic Medicine, suicide is the leading cause of death among male resident physicians in the U.S. The study also found physicians, particularly residents, are less likely to seek help out of fear it could hinder their career path.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among all medical residents, behind cancer.

Medical residency programs include long hours, life-and-death decisions and other factors that can affect emotional health.

Eric Caine, co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says physicians are also at high risk of suicide because of their access to and knowledge of lethal drugs.

Caine says Hendrix exhibited “all the hallmarks of someone at risk”, such as stressed relationships and a prior suicide attempt. Caine also says it can be difficult to isolate job stress as a cause of suicide.

Travis says his brother’s issues were personal and not professional.

“He was just having personal issues that he felt he was unable to overcome. And he acted in the only way he felt was left to him. He loved being a doctor.”

About the Author

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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