Its a Vets life
Did you know that the rate of suicide in the veterinary profession is about four times higher than in the general population? A sobering statistic.
The rate is higher than in the medical profession even. There is a 24/7 telephone Helpline specifically for Vets that was opened way back in the 1980’s so it is not a recent phenomenon. Although I’ve found no published figures there are fears that ancillary workers and vet nurses may also be at risk, as are trainee Vets.
The lifestyle is not conducive to a healthy work/life balance. Vets may be on call for hours in addition to their daily schedules as accident and/or sudden illness in our pets leads to unpredictable working hours. There is intense competition to earn a university place in the first place so only the most driven with the highest level of commitment may be selected. A Vet may start work with a six-figure student debt after a five-year course but then their income is not massive. Once qualified not even the medical profession (in this country) has so much power over life & death nor such easy access to strong drugs.
A Vet will have to face the dual challenge of coping with their patients and with their owners who are hugely involved emotionally but may struggle to meet the rising costs of care that scientific advances have made possible. This year the PDSA has tightened their rules on accepting pets for free treatment due to rising costs & demand. We may complain about the costs of treatment but we have little idea what healthcare really costs as we are used to free treatment under the NHS for ourselves.
Out to dinner with friends last weekend, two vets incidentally, I mentioned the subject of this piece. They both knew someone in the profession who had committed suicide. Food for thought!