In life, we faced new challenges every day and is not surprising that suicide has ended up with the life of many people. They may seem happy and successful but they could not cope with depression, anxiety or loneliness. In these times, suicide has turned into a major problem in demanding careers including the veterinary profession. Thus, awareness of suicide prevention has increased since the death of two famous Hollywood stars and after CDC reported that suicide has increased by 30% in the United States.
A few years ago, the veterinary world lost a veterinarian with over 30 years of practice who was a victim of cyberbullying and depression. She was part of an increasing number of veterinarians that have committed suicide. It all happened after she adopted a stray cat and she went through a custody battle with someone who wanted to reclaim the cat. The person sued the veterinarian and the conflict was published on the internet. Some people created a website to attack this veterinarian and also began to protest against her.
The Canadian Veterinary Journal reported that suicide in veterinary medicine is higher than deaths due to homicide and more than twice the number of medical professionals. Veterinary students, recent graduates and senior veterinarians can feel the pressure and stress. The career path to become a veterinarian can be competitive and overwhelming. In this profession, personality and work environment are factors playing a role in suicide. We know that personality traits vary between veterinarians. If they are competitive, demanding and perfectionist, when things turn out in unexpected ways those traits can contribute to anxiety and burn out. The work environment is another important factor, and some studies had shown that private clinic environments are more overwhelming and may cause more emotional and physical exhaustion in the long term.
A new initiative called the Wellbeing and Peer Assistance was developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to ensure the mental health of veterinarians. This online source contains self-assessments, tips, podcasts and more. All these resources have been created to help veterinarians to deal with fatigue, stress, and financial problems. But it might help vet students as well.