Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Why do so many veterinarians commit suicide?

Arcadian

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,042
Many of us have pets, and just as many of us go to the vet for various reasons. And man o man, this probably opened my eyes in more way than one...

My puppies current vet is pretty good. He freely admits he's not super sight hound savvy but the dog likes him and he does try to do the best by her. Plus what he doesn't know, he's willing to learn. He gets kuddos from me because his patients seem to really like him.

But this story...whoa... a bit frightening and tells about a side of v-medicine I didn't totally think about....the human side of it.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2016/09/18/why-many-veterinarians-commit-suicide/iCCgr46bIJpgEeesPHTe2L/story.html

an excerpt
He treated our pig’s stomach ulcers, arthritis, and congestive heart failure. He saved our hen’s life. And when our beloved border collie, Sally, lay dying in our bedroom, he came to our home, and while I held her and sobbed into the bedspread, he eased her out of her illness.

It’s hard to think of many people in our lives more important, more integral, or more venerated than our veterinarians. To those of us who love animals, veterinary medicine is one of the world’s noblest professions.

So it was with shock and dismay that I learned that veterinarians suffer alarmingly high rates of depression and suicide.

“It’s a big problem,” says Stephanie Kube, a veterinary neurologist and pain pathologist at Veterinary Neurology and Pain Management Center of New England in Walpole. “The profession is truly plagued.”

A 2014 federal Centers for Disease Control online survey of 10,000 practicing veterinarians published last year found that more than one in six American veterinarians has considered suicide. Veterinarians suffer from feelings of hopelessness, depression, and other psychiatric disorders two to three times more often than the general population. Two studies published in the British Veterinarian Association’s journal, The Veterinary Record, found suicide rates are double or more those of dentists and doctors, and four to six times higher than the general population.
 

smitcompton

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
2,609
Hi,

There was a wonderful article recently that stated that it hurts to love animals-real physical hurt. At animal shelters the workers need to take a break as the job can be overwhelming with emotion.

While it is usually brings a human comfort, sickness in animals, and not being to help is more than distressing to some.

These vets need a break with maybe some group therapy for the hard times. Humans can be over-burdened with the love they feel for the animal. Vets have to be self aware of this possibility.

Annette
 

ecf8503

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
3,743
It's a big problem with the profession I love and am proud to be a member of. It's often referred to as (simply) "compassion fatigue" - and it is real.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,188
I've done no research but have heard that dentists suffer tremendously.
Every day they they see the pain they inflict ... obviously for the patients' own good, but still it takes a great toll on the dentists.
 

Snowdrop13

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
1,863
Much of it will be due to access to particular types of drugs and the knowledge of how they work- hence more likely to be successful if they are suicidal. The same is true for some groups of doctors, such as anaesthesiologists.
 

wildcat03

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
503
kenny|1474405261|4078975 said:
I've done no research but have heard that dentists suffer tremendously.
Every day they they see the pain they inflict ... obviously for the patients' own good, but still it takes a great toll on the dentists.
I disagree with that assessment as the reason for their high suicide rate. If that were the reason, the suicide rate amongst oncologists would likely be equally high. It is not. The suicide rate for anesthesiologists was, last time I checked, the second highest of all medical specialties and the entire specialty revolves around analgesia. Psychiatrists were the highest...they inflict no physical pain.

The common thread between veterinarians and anesthesiologists is two things. First, a stressful job. Really stressful. Second, access to controlled substances to make death possible. Very few physicians actually access meds on their own, but anesthesiologists draw up and administer their own meds. Based on what my veterinarian friends tell me, they access their own meds, draw them up, and administer them on their own which leaves the possibility for diversion.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,068
smitcompton|1474398249|4078934 said:
Hi,

There was a wonderful article recently that stated that it hurts to love animals-real physical hurt. At animal shelters the workers need to take a break as the job can be overwhelming with emotion.

While it is usually brings a human comfort, sickness in animals, and not being to help is more than distressing to some.

These vets need a break with maybe some group therapy for the hard times. Humans can be over-burdened with the love they feel for the animal. Vets have to be self aware of this possibility.

Annette

Annette I agree with what you wrote and while I don't know if this is the reason for the high suicide rate for veterinarians I am not surprised if it plays a factor at least in their depression. I have definitely figured out that being part of animal rescue is just not for me long term (besides doing what we can for our ferals at the beach and continuing to feed them and TNR as necessary) because it is too upsetting and emotionally stressful for me. I feel sick about the animals all the time when I am involved in doing this type of work and while I could manage it when I was younger it has taken its toll and I don't want to continue doing it into my old age like I thought.

It's the not being to help enough that is extremely distressing for me. I will have to ask my sister about this info re veterinarians and suicide rates and see how she feels and deals with the stress.
 

iLander

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
6,731
Because they love animals and they keep having to put them to sleep.

It would drive me over the brink after a while, too.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,188
wildcat03|1474407421|4078990 said:
kenny|1474405261|4078975 said:
I've done no research but have heard that dentists suffer tremendously.
Every day they they see the pain they inflict ... obviously for the patients' own good, but still it takes a great toll on the dentists.
I disagree with that assessment as the reason for their high suicide rate. ...
Huh?
I made no 'assessment' about the suicide rate of dentists. :confused:
 

wildcat03

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
503
kenny|1474421552|4079058 said:
wildcat03|1474407421|4078990 said:
kenny|1474405261|4078975 said:
I've done no research but have heard that dentists suffer tremendously.
Every day they they see the pain they inflict ... obviously for the patients' own good, but still it takes a great toll on the dentists.
I disagree with that assessment as the reason for their high suicide rate. ...
Huh?
I made no 'assessment' about the suicide rate of dentists. :confused:
So you didn't attribute the high suicide rate of dentists to them inflicting pain on patients? I'm confused, as that is quoted in your very reply.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,188
wildcat03|1474424824|4079084 said:
kenny|1474421552|4079058 said:
wildcat03|1474407421|4078990 said:
kenny|1474405261|4078975 said:
I've done no research but have heard that dentists suffer tremendously.
Every day they they see the pain they inflict ... obviously for the patients' own good, but still it takes a great toll on the dentists.
I disagree with that assessment as the reason for their high suicide rate. ...
Huh?
I made no 'assessment' about the suicide rate of dentists. :confused:
So you didn't attribute the high suicide rate of dentists to them inflicting pain on patients? I'm confused, as that is quoted in your very reply.
Huh? No it isn't.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,068
I spoke to my sister about this and she agreed with the article. She is a veterinarian and she said her experience of being in this field for over 20 years has changed dramatically. She said clients (the owners/parents of her patients who are the animals) have become unreasonable and demanding and want free everything.

The prevailing mentality these days has changed and with the media and other outlets many people are suspicious of the procedures veterinarians recommend and feel they are being ripped off. Clients have become too demanding and unreasonable and feel entitled.

Hmm sounds like that might be a more common issue (people feeling entitled) not just related to veterinarian medicine but I digress.

All I know is my sister is an excellent and caring veterinarian and to hear her thoughts on this issue is sobering. She said what happened to Dr Koshi was a huge miscarriage of justice and a horrible tragedy.
 

CJ2008

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 31, 2006
Messages
4,750
I really appreciate you posting this Arcadian.

I will remember to be more kind / nice to my vet every time I visit her. (not that I'm not nice, but it's always good to be reminded of the other side, and be extra kind).

I often wonder what the job is like for car mechanics, too. I always try to remind DH that they're in a situation where most customers feel they're getting ripped off or want a discount.

Having so much information at our fingertips nowadays is a good thing but it makes us question more, too. Maybe doctors, mechanics, etc., instead of resisting this change can welcome it and work with it. It takes just as long as to say "that is true in part, but what is also at play is x - which is why I am recommending y" than to get annoyed at someone questioning/wanting to better understand the recommendation.

ETA: this is also why I know I could never work with animals, as much as I love them. It would probably get to the point I couldn't function or do anything else.
 

Arcadian

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,042
Thanks everyone for your comments.

missy, your sister does indeed know the "human side " of the story. Yes its very sad to see pets in pain, but the other side of it is people seem to think that vet care shouldn't cost that much. Well...unfortunately in this country it really can!

CJ, the story came up I think for me at the right time. after moving my entire household 1500 miles and then having to deal with her being ill (she's very seldom sick but when she pukes I pay attention) For me it was stress compounded on a whole lot of added stress.

I did indeed have to remind myself that vet tests can cost quite a bit. He looked relieved that I didn't say I'm not doing those damn tests because blah blah blah. My dog was in pain, this was medically necessary. On the followup I told him I'm perfectly fine with tests that will allow me to manage her quality of life for the better.

Now there are also some I don't feel are necessary. Like when he first met her he thought she might have a heart murmur. He's not grey savvy so I gently reminded him that greys have hearts twice the size of other dogs, and, with those big narrow chests what may sound like a heart murmur may not necessarily be the case.

I also sent him this information http://www.ngap.org/greyhound-health-all-heart-y321.html..

He was very thankful for it, and he at least now understands why I'm not more concerned on that front. The OSU greyhound program info has been helpful for me with her old vet and now her new one. Thankfully continues to be available to help other greyhound owners to help their vets too.
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,006
It is my theory that a certain type of person gravitates toward the job. This person is a much more sensitive soul to begin with. They may even experience empathy more strongly than normal people. This is why they love animals so much and want to work in a profession that would make a difference in their lives. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the job sets in and each time they have to put an animal down just because someone can't afford medical care or each time they see an animal suffering neglect they experience the pain almost as if they were the animal themselves. Or maybe it feels like a wave of fire rushing over them. Whatever the sensation, it is powerful. There is no barrier, no boundaries. These ultra sensitive people feel this pain again and again, day in and day out. I have no doubt that this kind of pain and stress would cause a physiological change in the brain. There is the depression.

Depression is a son of a bitch. It tells you your life is shit, that you are shit, that everyone thinks you're shit, and that this feeling will never, ever end. I think these ultra sensitive types feel depression in every cell of their body, all the way to the tips of their hair.

They say that the brains of people who have committed suicide are chemically different. I believe that with the chronic stress and depression, those imbalanced chemicals get the brain to lie to those beautiful souls... "The only way out of this pain is to kill yourself." There is actually peace in that thought because it provides a solution to the pain. Sigh. So they do it because their suffering is something we can't even fathom.

And it is so heartbreaking because they were sweet, sensitive souls who had a gift and a heart for animals. Their intention was to make a difference.

That's my theory.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,068
House Cat|1474492286|4079335 said:
It is my theory that a certain type of person gravitates toward the job. This person is a much more sensitive soul to begin with. They may even experience empathy more strongly than normal people. This is why they love animals so much and want to work in a profession that would make a difference in their lives. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the job sets in and each time they have to put an animal down just because someone can't afford medical care or each time they see an animal suffering neglect they experience the pain almost as if they were the animal themselves. Or maybe it feels like a wave of fire rushing over them. Whatever the sensation, it is powerful. There is no barrier, no boundaries. These ultra sensitive people feel this pain again and again, day in and day out. I have no doubt that this kind of pain and stress would cause a physiological change in the brain. There is the depression.

Depression is a son of a bitch. It tells you your life is shit, that you are shit, that everyone thinks you're shit, and that this feeling will never, ever end. I think these ultra sensitive types feel depression in every cell of their body, all the way to the tips of their hair.

They say that the brains of people who have committed suicide are chemically different. I believe that with the chronic stress and depression, those imbalanced chemicals get the brain to lie to those beautiful souls... "The only way out of this pain is to kill yourself." There is actually peace in that thought because it provides a solution to the pain. Sigh. So they do it because their suffering is something we can't even fathom.

And it is so heartbreaking because they were sweet, sensitive souls who had a gift and a heart for animals. Their intention was to make a difference.

That's my theory.

Thank you for your beautifully written post House Cat and I agree that it would seem these factors play a significant role.


Arcadian, I am glad you have a good veterinarian who is also open to learning from his clients/patients.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Messages
8,890
HousCat -- Yes! I have had veterinarians tell me about people bringing animals to euthanize just because they are "too old" (like a perfectly healthy 12 year old!) Or can't/won't treat even simple things because of expense (one would have been simple antibiotics!).

I have sat with vets who cried with me as we made tough decisions. Who tried everything to save my sweet kitty but there was just too much wrong. They clearly care deeply and hurt along with us.
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    Vintage OEC Bracelet

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.

New posts

Top