Veterinarian Suicide Rates Continue to Be Higher Than Average

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In a trend that’s continued for more than 30 years, U.S. veterinarians — especially female vets — are at increased risk for suicide. Results of a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association suggest that women veterinarians are 3.5 times more likely, and male veterinarians are 2.1 times more likely, to die from suicide than the population in general. Three-quarters of veterinarians who die as a result of suicide had worked in a small animal practice.

In the United States, more than 60 percent of veterinarians are women. While the proportion of female veterinarians who have committed suicide since 2000 has remained stable, at about 10 percent, the number of deaths by suicide has steadily increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Previous research conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that female veterinarians have a higher prevalence of suicide risk factors, such as depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.

The CDC lists some suicide risk factors that may be specific to veterinarians, including:

Long work hours Education debt-to-income ratio Poor work-life balance Access to euthanasia drugs used in animals and the training to calculate a lethal dose in people

As in the general population, guns are the most commonly used method of suicide in veterinarians, but 37 percent of suicides among vets result from pharmaceutical poisoning — 2.5 times higher than in the general population.

Sourced from: CDC