Part 2:
Leading causes of suicidal ideation in veterinarians

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1. Difficult Client Interactions

Difficult client interactions
  • Accusations of not caring and “only being in it for the money”
  • Getting the blame for not being able to save a pet when owners delay care and refuse diagnostics

2. Online Personal Attacks

Online personal attacks
  • Scathing, one-sided reviews about cost of treatment, wait times, accusing vets of taking advantage of pet owners, and worse
  • Social media hate campaigns against individual vets, inciting mass public attacks and even death threats

3. Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue
  • Dealing with the suffering and distress of pets and pet owners on a daily basis
  • Traumatic stress is passed onto the vet—it’s called “Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder” and symptoms mimic PTSD

4. Depression & Anxiety

Depression and anxiety
  • Perceiving the inability to save all patients as a personal failure
  • Fear of angering clients and receiving negative online reviews

5. Crippling Student Debt

Crippling student debt
  • The average veterinary student debt is $183,000​​—with 20% over $200,000, and some as high as $500,000
  • Veterinarians don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness programs

6. COVID-19 Pandemic

Covid 19 pandemic
  • Pet ownership increased 70% during the 2020 lockdowns, causing a surge in demand for veterinary services and staffing shortages
  • Protocols to keep everyone safe increase staff workload, and therefore wait times, angering clients
  • Staff is stretched thin and morale at an all-time low due to stress, exhaustion, frequent abuse from clients, and increased rates of euthanasia

7. Overwork & Burnout

Overwork and burnout
  • Animals don’t get sick on a schedule and the shortage of vets means working overtime
  • Emergencies often mean skipping meals and staying hours past closing, creating poor work-life balance

8. Access to Euthanasia Drugs

Access to euthanasia drugs
  • A large part of veterinary work is ending suffering via euthanasia
  • In moments of distress, access to life-ending drugs makes it easier for vets to take their own lives

So, what can we do do help our vets?

See Part 3: Ways to help your veterinarian

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So, what can we do to help our vets?

See Part 3: Ways to help your veterinarian

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