Veterinarians have particularly high rate of suicide, experts say

INDIANAPOLIS (WDTV/CNN) - Veterinarians are taking their own lives at alarming numbers; they are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

“Now I might go from an exam room and be working with a puppy or a kitten to a walking next door and doing euthanasia. And that’s a huge mental swing,” Dr. Jennifer Quammen said.

Quammen said suicide is an issue widely talked about among her profession.

“One in six. So, this idea that one in six practicing veterinarians, or veterinarian students, or even technicians, have contemplated suicide within the last year,” Quammen said. “And I looked around, and I thought, ‘Well, there’s six associates in this practice, and it’s not me, so, oh my gosh, it could be one of them.’”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found male vets are 2.1 times as likely and females 3.5 times as likely to die by suicide compared with the general population.

This is especially concerning as more than 60 percent of vets are women.

“We talk about euthanasia. We guide people toward it toward it. We physically deliver it, and so at one point when you’re in a down place yourself, why would you not naturally think, ‘Oh if I’m counseling a client that that’s an OK thing that I can see this is a way out as well,’” Quammen said.

Things like pricey medical school debt but getting paid less than half of a typical physician or surgeon and a tendency to isolate themselves makes veterinary one of the top professions at risk for suicide.

If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

A Crisis Text Line is also available by texting 741-741. This free service gives around-the-clock support to those in crisis.

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