For many of us, it would be a dream job: caring for animals all day long. However, what we don’t often see are the long hours, the stress of dealing with sick animals – and their families, and the heavy school debt load. Combine these negatives with easy access to lethal medications, and you see an alarming suicide rate among veterinarians.
According to a recent story on NPR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found female veterinarians were 3.5 times as likely, and male veterinarians were 2.1 times as likely, to die from suicide as the general population.
Good vets get personally attached to the animals they treat, particularly animals with chronic diseases who come into the office on a regular basis. You can see it when you take your own pet in for care; the really good vets take the time to get to know the pet before they start prodding and poking at them. So when the animal develops something incurable, or gets hit by a car, or must be euthanized for any number of reasons, it takes its toll.
And it used to be that if you were unhappy with the service you received from your vet, you might call and say something, but it rarely went beyond that. With the availability now of 24/7 online access, some dissatisfied pet families are cyber-bullying their vets, causing some to leave the profession and even driving some to the point of suicide.
Is it hopeless? Of course not! Effective mental health care is available for vets who wish to access it. And now there is a Facebook group – Not One More Vet – which boasts over 20,000 member vets who can support each other when the days get long and especially tough.
If you’re reading this and are a vet, please take a few minutes for self-care every day, and seek professional help when it’s needed. We need the good ones to stick around! You matter, and you’re only at a semi-colon in your life, not a period.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!