Suicide prevention week is coming up and this week we lost another veterinarian to suicide. She was a mother, wife, friend, and amazing veterinarian. This story is too common and one that is growing. 

A study was released from the Journal of American Veterinary Association stating that Veterinarians are more likely to commit suicide than members of the general population. Female veterinarians are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide, while male veterinarians are 2.1 more times likely. 

Why is that? How can we stop this growing trend in the field? 

We dedicate our lives to saving animals, to helping a living being live a healthier, longer life. Why are veterinarians becoming this horrible statistic?

Is it the emotional blackmail? The large student loan debt? The long hours? The low pay? The compassion fatigue? Easy access to drugs? The demand to see more and more? 

It is everything, everything mixed together.

There are many articles, many sites that tell you this same information, but even with the awareness even with people now talking about it, how is it being fixed? 

Many of the Veterinarians you don’t even know are struggling, you see the smiling faces, the hugs with the patients and the laughs from the ridiculous things that go on. What you don’t see is the struggle behind the mask, worry about who is going to shame you on social media, who is going to go after your license, where will you get the energy to continue at home? What you don’t see is the repayment paperwork and watching your payment go up $400 more a month, the schedule where 4 more patients were double or triple booked, the multiple phone messages from the same client who is mad you didn’t call back within 30 minutes. This you don’t see.

You don’t see the appointment before where the Veterinarian just ended the life of a family member, the surgery right before your appointment where the 6-month-old puppy didn’t make it. The phone call before where the client is screaming because they removed the ecollar or refuse to pursue diagnostics and is mad you don’t have a crystal ball. 

What you do see is the facebook posts stating that the veterinarian wouldn’t perform the procedure for free so they must be heartless, you see the lynch mob attacking the veterinarian, the technicians, and the clinic. You do see this and most of the time you may engage.

So how can we stop this? How can we fix this?

Thank your veterinarian.

We do everything we can to help your pets. We are not evil money hungry people. If we could help every pet for free, we would, but we wouldn’t be able to keep the doors open, staff paid, food on the table, etc. Next time you tell a Veterinarian they should treat your pet, your responsibility for free, think about working your job and not getting a paycheck. Would you? Probably not. 

Fix the student loan issues!

Get out and vote in the next election. Don’t tell someone you should have known what you have gotten into. Many of us were not properly explained how this would affect us and our lives. We were not told the interest rates would be over 8%! 

Stop with the emotional blackmail!

Stop stating if you don’t do this or if your pet doesn’t make it then you will take to social media. Just stop it. It is easy to hide behind the computer and type up a story. The problem is, it is one side of the story and not the whole story. The legality is as veterinarians we can’t give the real story. So while the world spins around you can watch the threats pursue, the negative reviews and the fall of someone’s livelihood. How would you feel if this was your job? Just stop, don’t engage, don’t share, know that there is more to the story.

Stop with the demanding to be seen immediately.

If your veterinarian is booked, they are booked. Vets try to see more and more, they are pushed to see more because if not someone will complain. There are emergency clinics for a reason, there are multiple hospitals in the area for a reason. 

Veterinarians are struggling, we shouldn’t be a statistic but unfortunately, we are. Our profession knows it and we are trying to fix it, but without the public’s help, it will be hard. Our profession has been struck with mental illness, depression and compassion fatigue because in the end we want to do as much as possible to help our patients. We shouldn’t have to continually look over our shoulders waiting for the next attack. 

We will never know the demons that lurked in the angels that have passed. Angels that dedicated their lives to their patients, their families. Right now there are two more little boys without a mother, without someone to hold them when they need it. Before going after someone who is just trying to help your pet, remember that their job is not so simple.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, seek out a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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