Monday, September 16, 2019

Veterinarians have a much higher suicide rate.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Veterinarians have a much higher suicide rate and euthanasia may be a major reason for the suicide deaths.



An article in Time Magazine written by Melissa Chan looks at the question of veterinarian suicide rates. The article explains that there are several reasons for the higher suicide rate among veterinarians but it also shows how euthanasia has led some veterinarians to leave the profession or become suicidal. The article explains;
Dr. Will McCauley had just finished his shift at a small Dallas animal clinic when he went home, fed his pet pot-bellied pig and then held a loaded handgun to his head.

The 33-year-old veterinarian was wracked with student debt and worn down by the daily demands at work, which included euthanizing dogs and cats and being vilified by pet owners for not meeting their expectations. “I was tired in this miserable state of mind,” he says. “It just drained me so much.” For reasons he attributes to either fear or hope, McCauley didn’t kill himself that summer day in 2016, and he quit his job later that week and stopped practicing.

“I knew I had to make a change,” McCauley says. “I was dead on the inside.”
The job challenges that more than 70,000 veterinarians in the U.S. face have led to disproportionately high suicide rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly 400 veterinarians died by suicide between 1979 and 2015, according to a CDC study published in January that analyzed more than 11,000 veterinarian death records in that timeframe. The study also found that female veterinarians are up to 3.5 times more likely to kill themselves than members of the general population. “It really can be classified as an epidemic in my profession,” says McCauley, who is now 36 and working for a trade association in Washington, D.C.
* Female veterinarians have a much higher suicide rate. Is euthanasia a factor?
The story of Dr Nicole McArthur further emphasizes how veterinary euthanasia is leading to suicide:
Dr. Nicole McArthur, a 46-year-old veterinarian in Rocklin, Calif., left the profession twice because of the agony she felt after killing an animal. “There was a period of time when I was essentially Dr. Death,” she says, adding that she’d sometimes have to put down three pets a day. “At the time, I was like, somebody is punishing me for something I’ve done in another life.” The dreams she had to help animals as an aspiring veterinarian quickly clashed with the harsh reality of having to take their lives even when they could have been surgically treated. She quit the field most recently in 2013 and returned in 2015. “We go through veterinary school with the idea that we’re going to save lives,” McArthur says. “To have to turn around and push a plunger is difficult.”
The suicide rate among euthanasia doctors is important now that Canada has legalized euthanasia and several US States have legalized assisted suicide.

In the future, will we be reading stories about the increasing physician suicide rates, especially physicians who are involved with (MAiD) euthanasia? 

Since physicians have a high suicide rate, the data may not be noticed until future research is done on suicide rates among physicians who do euthanasia. It is too early to do suicide research on euthanasia doctors in Canada, but research on doctors in the Netherlands and Belgium can be done now.

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