Study Says Female Veterinarians More Likely To Commit Suicide Than Male Vets
STATEWIDE -- Saying goodbye to your pet is never easy, now imagine being the person that has to say that death might be the best option for your fury friend.
"We're the only healthcare profession that actually talks to people about death," said veterinarian and President of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, Jennifer Quammen. "and counsels people that death is a good idea, and then we physically deliver that."
On top of suggesting that death may be the best option, veterinarians have to deal with accumulating debt, long hours and cyber bullying from angry pet owners.
All of these are contributing factors as to why veterinarians in the U.S. are at an increased risk of suicide.
In a study published by the Centers for Disease Control they found that female veterinarians were 3.5 times more likely, and male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely, to commit suicide than the general population.
So, how do veterinarians combat the tougher parts of the job?
"I combat it a bit for myself through well being behaviors," said Quammen.
She says for her working out, and having social networks outside of just the profession helps her balance out the downsides of the job.
"As veterinarians we have to believe, and I think we have to live, that self care is not selfish."
Quammen says that at the end of the day vets have to realize that they have to be responsible for their patients and clients, but they also have to realize that if they aren't taking care of themselves they're doing a disservice to their patients.
Associate Veterinarian at the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic, Dr. Heidi Rice, says that unfortunately being a vet isn't playing with puppies all the time.
"It's a lot of communication with clients, and having those hard discussions on where we need to go with your pet."
She says there's lots of years that you need to put in, and unfortunately a lot of tears. But, to get through it she says it's important to remember the victories.
"Vet school victories, vet day victories, you have to those and put them in your back pocket for the days that are hard."
When it was her first year out, Rice said she found a very rare condition in a kitten.
"I remember my boss, at the time, because I'm a new graduate I have all these stars in my eyes, and he said, 'Heidi, you're probably going to have more of a chance of walking on the moon than diagnosing that cat with that condition.'"
Rice didn't let that stop her though. The kitten did have the rare condition and she was able to treat it and get it back on its feet. The kitten is just one of the victories she keeps with her.
If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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