Research/studies Services Worker Health and Wellness

Study finds veterinarians face higher suicide risk; association highlights mental health resources

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Schaumburg, IL — Veterinarians have a suicide rate up to 3.5 times greater than the general population, according to recent research from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reviewing the records of 11,620 veterinarians who died between 1979 and 2015, researchers found that women in the field were 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide compared with the general population. Men in the field, meanwhile, had a higher likelihood of dying from suicide at 2.1 times that of the general population.

AVMA is highlighting a number of resources to help workers in the field cope with mental stressors and challenges, including poor work-life balance and financial burdens.

“One suicide is clearly too many,” AVMA President John de Jong said in a Dec. 21 press release. “Working with our colleagues throughout the veterinary community will help us find solutions more quickly. This issue is affecting not only our profession, but society as a whole.”

The organization states that it is teaming up with other groups to develop mental health resources, such as Question, Persuade, Refer training, intended to assist loved ones and colleagues of those at risk.

“Oftentimes, people may suspect someone is suffering but they don’t know what to say, or they worry that what they say may make the situation worse,” Jen Brandt, director of member well-being and diversity at AVMA, said in the release.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

The study was published online Jan. 1 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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