Study: Veterinarians dying by suicide at alarming rate

In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that found suicide rates in veterinarians are much higher compared to the general population.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 5:48 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2019 6:30 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Being a veterinarian is a job that, to most, seems like a childhood dream, but a troubling new study says suicide rates are higher among members of the profession than the general population.

According to the study, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in January, male veterinarians are more than two times more likely to die by suicide than the average population and women, even more, are 3.5 times more likely to take their own lives than the national average.

Lisa Poquette has been in the field for 25 years. She said the financial stress is tough.

"Most of us are not getting rich," said Poquette. "I probably make less than most of my clients."

On average veterinarians are leaving school nearly $150,000 in debt and raking in about $88,000 a year to show for it.

That's not the only stressor.

According to Katie Holland, a vet tech, another contributing factor to the burnout is something called "compassion fatigue."

"Veterinarians have the difficulty of taking care of animals but also running a business," said Holland. "(They also have) really big hearts because that's why they want to do this type of work."

Veterinarians can't help every animal and they may need to euthanize many every day.

"We love everything," said Poquette. "We want to help everything, and we can't."

Both Poquette and Holland want this new study to bring light to encourage those in this field to prioritize their own mental health and well being.

They both said that at the end of the day they hope their clients can offer them the same understanding that they offer their very best friends every day.

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