Now that we’ve got the statistics, it’s time to delve into the causes of mental distress and suicidal ideation for veterinarians and start finding ways to drive those statistics down.
To make them easier to share, I’ve divided this project into two parts:
- Part 1 describes some of the leading cause of emotional distress and suicidal ideation for veterinarians, and
- Part 2: Ways to help your vet gives some tips on how we pet owners can help make things a little easier for our vets.
Please note, I am not a mental health professional and am by no means an expert on these topics. These info sheets are based on what I have read and learned from conversations with my own vet over the past couple of years.
Leading causes of suicidal ideation for veterinarians fact sheet
Use the “Download” buttons below to download the full-size image or PDF.
1. Difficult client interactions
Being accused of only caring about money and blamed for not being able to cure or treat a pet can be some of the most distressing things for someone who has dedicated their life to helping animals.
2. Online personal attacks
Scathing, one-sided reviews or personal attacks via social media hate campaigns (sometimes encouraging physical violence and revealing the vet’s home address) are often the most detrimental.
3. Compassion fatigue
Working daily with sick, injured, and dying animals and their owners can take a toll on the mental health of someone who chose a career out of a love for animals and a personal understanding of the human-animal bond.
4. Depression and anxiety
The inability to cure all of their patients and placate angry clients can lead to severe depression and anxiety for veterinarians who might perceive these as failures on their part.
5. Crushing student debt
The average veterinary student debt is $183,000, with 20% over $200,000, and veterinarians do not qualify for student loan forgiveness programs as some human doctors might.
6. Overwork and burnout
Animals don’t get sick on a schedule and many vets end up working more than 40 hours a week, often skipping meals to tend to emergencies, and leading to poor work-life balance and burnout.
7. Access to drugs
Not only are vets accustomed to the concept of ending unnecessary suffering, they have access to life-ending drugs that most people do not, making it easier for them to take their own lives in a moment of distress.
Available as a one-page 8×10 fact sheet (in PNG or PDF) or a series of square social media sized posts. Use the “Download” buttons below to download the full-sized images.
Preview of square social media posts —
7 ways in which pet owners can help their veterinarians in PNG format. More details in Part 2 of 2: Ways to help your vet
Set of square social media image posts on leading causes of suicidal ideation for veterinarian, with one tip per image. More details in Part 1 of 2: Leading causes of suicidal ideation for veterinarians
8 leading causes of suicidal ideation for veterinarians in PDF format. More details in Part 1 of 2: Leading causes of suicidal ideation for veterinarians