Monday, March 29, 2021

Veterinarian suicide rate should concern physicians who do euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Concern related to the high rate of suicide among veterinarians is once again receiving media attention. An article published by KCTV news concerns the veterinary suicide rate in relation to the COVID-19 lockdown. The news article by Blake Keller for KCTV news states:
the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized this issue. A study conducted by them found female veterinarians are up to 3.5 times more likely to take their lives compared to the general public. Males are up to two times more likely.
Keller interviews Dr Erin Howard who teaches at Baker College who states:
"It's been trending more and more so, especially over the last several years, COVID certainly hasn't helped things," 
"I'm afraid the numbers are going to be even worse the next time a study comes around when it includes what's happened in 2020."
CBC news reported about an online charity campaign called Not One More Vet that seeks to reduce the veterinary suicide rate. Veterinarian, Dr Darrell Stinson tells CBC news that:
"Veterinary medicine, unfortunately, has the highest suicide rate among professionals in the United States, and it's very close in Canada as well,"
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 story Dr Nicole McArthur emphasizes how veterinary euthanasia is leading to suicide. Chan reports:
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 medical professionals who do euthanasia is important now that Canada has legalized euthanasia and more US States have legalized assisted suicide.

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


Jenny said...

I would think that the suicide rate in physicians would be higher than vets as we know in medical school we are not animals. There is more to a human, a soul, that brings more significance to our lives as we think, interact, and make decisions not based on instinct but rational thought. I don't like having my pets put down as they are part of the family, but I could never "put down" a human. There is a value in compassion that means something different for a cat (putting them out of their misery) versus a human (suffering with them and trying to alleviate that suffering as much as we can while caring for them until their Maker sees fit to end the suffering).

Anonymous said...

I am a licensed vet who now works in research. My experience in clinical practice is that depression is very common.

There are many reasons, some alluded to by the first commentator. I myself had compulsive suicidal thoughts as a practicing vet. Deepening my relationship with Christ cured that.

In addition, many vets are financially stressed between huge debts and owners who don't understand why a procedure will cost them $600. They work long hours. Finally when the depressed vet reaches rock bottom they have access to powerful agents to make it easier to do.

Pat said...

It seems odd to me that a veterinarian would see surgery as a natural treatment for an animal. Other than setting bones and fixing superficial injuries I can't see anything 'natural' in putting animals through surgery, chemotherapy and especially prolonging old age life when an animal can no longer live its 'normal' life. When a pet needs its feed dish elevated, needs pee breaks through the night and needs help to ascend/descend steps, is deaf and/or blind & needs to be nudged to see if it is alive, then it is living an unnatural life. As a community care aide it was common to have a client express a feeling of being useless and I would remind them of the family that looked to them as a model of how to live a spirit filled life to the full and natural end. Even an a life of pain can be a spiritual humans!