81 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this post. I have heard about the high rates of death by suicide by MDs and DVMs, which is really so tragic. Your insights into this difficult problem are appreciated and go a long way to building awareness and compassion.

      • Lisa Millman

        Thank you for writing this post. I was completely unaware of the suicide rate among vets. I have been a pet lover/owner all of my life and have always been fortunate to have exceptional vet care for them. I was also shocked to learn that owners actually disrespect their vets. It has always been my belief that it is much more difficult to be a vet than a human doctor because of the diversity of the patients. I, for one, am grateful to those in your profession.

        • Thank you for reading this post. I’m truly hopeful increased awareness will help improve the partnership between pet parents and veterinarians. I hope you’ll consider sharing this information with other pet parents.

      • Thank you very much for writing this post so clearly for the well-being of the profession as well as to boost the morale of the veterinary medicine practitioner. Indeed, its the need of the hour just to clear misconception of pet owners and also to establish a good bond of relationship with them.

        • Thanks for reading Dr. Baruah! I’m hopeful this post will be an effective first step in improving partnerships between pet parents and veterinarians.

    • Shellie Morefield

      I am very lucky and proud to say I have one of the most compassionate veterinarians around. We love her and so do our Beagles! Thank you for a well written article to make others aware.

      • Thank you for reading. I hope you’ll consider sharing your words of praise with your veterinarian (if you haven’t already done so) – such a gesture means more than one can adequately express in words.

  2. Wendy

    Thank you for writing this article. Veterinarians are humans too and their emotional toll is horrendous. I understand and am compassionate about how my vet feels.

  3. Maureen C. Allen

    Venting our frustration, grief, disappointment, pain does nothing for our pets’ condition but devastates the doc who’s providing the best care with a hopeful heart. It is NOT true that vets–or any doc–are somehow inured to our pain because they see more than the average person. They differ only in the long, complex, difficult training they undergo in order to devote their lives to helping the animals we love. It’s in the best interest of our animals, ourselves and our veterinarians to show them appreciation, support and compassion.

  4. Joyce Brown Wagner

    We have been blessed with excellent vet care for all of our fur babies. Expensive,yes; worth it, absolutely. Since our animals are a part of our family, they deserve the same medical care our children do. Thank you for this article.

  5. K. Kivi

    Thank you for this post. As a veterinarian of 15 years, it has gotten harder amd harder over the years. I have had my moments for sure. A strong support system is the only reason I havr made this far….. that and that I love what I do despite the pressures. We may have special skills but we are still human. We care deeply and feel deeply too. Tennessee DVM

    • I’m glad you liked it. I was really nervous about posting it, but ultimately felt I had a responsibility to share the information with pet parents.

  6. Laura Blandford

    I’m a pet owner not a vet. I just want to tell you all I so appreciate everything you guys do. Thank you. I shared this. I hope you all take care of yourself.

  7. Dr. Cynthia Becker, DDS

    Sharing. I have the greatest respect for the vets who care for my animals and others who are my personal friends. I am struck by the similarities between veterinary practice and my own, which is dentistry. A few words chosen differently, and you have expressed my own thoughts about my profession and the changes in patient perception and expectations. (I have been in practice for 35 years and colleagues have taken their lives in that time). You are exactly right.

  8. Melanie Crovo

    Thank you. I have wanted to write something like this for over a year. Your words were perfect.

    Melanie Crovo, DVM

  9. Lana Abraham

    thank you for writing this article
    I have always appreciated the great and compassionate care from my vets…I cringe when I hear people complaining about the costs…I remind them of the cost of human health care…my experience with vets has been nothing but good and I try to always say thank you. It is a tough but worthwhile career and I for one am very thankful

    • Thank you for reading the post. I hope you’ll share it with other pet parents. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to share your words of praise and encouragement with your veterinarian. It will mean the world to them!

  10. Heather Herrington

    I want to print this post and hand it to every single person who asks why I walked away from veterinary medicine. It’s so, so much harder than people realize. Thank you for writing this.

  11. Brooke

    Thanks to you, and all your colleagues. A very hard, emotional job at some times. Probably more than not.
    Thank you for opening up eyes on this subject.
    Our fur babies need good Dr.s too!
    God Bless.

  12. Linda Thornton

    This is whynI didn’t become a vet! I wanted to work with
    Animals but I didn’t want to see sick ones!!!!!!!😢😳

    Love my vets AND vet techs!
    Linda C Thornton

  13. Tina

    Firstly, thanku from from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to post this.
    I ache for you and all your colleagues and hope and pray your post has made, and will continue to make, a big difference to all the current and future ‘pet parents’.
    We have family in your profession and this has brought a very real understanding for us.
    God bless.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your kind words. I hope you’ll consider sharing it with other pet parents you know. Increased awareness could truly help!

  14. Margaret Berry

    I am actually contemplating posting this on our hospitals facebook page. Unfortunately the clients who go to our fb are not the ones that need to read some of the hurtful comments made.

    • Thanks for reading this post! I really hope you’ll share it on your hospital website. It will undoubtedly go a long way to help increase awareness.

  15. CatsandERmedicine

    From a fellow veterinarian, thank you for creating public awareness of this problem in a candid and poignant essay. I think that in general, veterinarians are so giving, and tend to be introverted, making it difficult to advocate for ourselves. Thus, the general public likely has no idea of the varied and pressing problems veterinarians deal with each day, since vets tend to focus so much of their energies on caring for others. I think it’s both brave and necessary to start a discourse about this. Thank you. 🙂

    –INFJ ER vet in Maryland

    • Thanks for reading the post and for sharing your word kind words. I’m hopeful increased awareness will be a positive step toward improved collaboration between veterinarians and pet parents.

  16. Alyssa Zulueta

    Thank you for writing this! I only recently heard about the high rate of suicide for veterinarians, and it is heartbreaking. My personal experience has almost always been that vets and their staff are some of the most caring, loving, and compassionate people on Earth. I think it takes a special person to be a vet/vet tech.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this!

  17. My mother wanted me to become a vet. I said that I couldn’t do that – because sooner-or-later someone would come in with a dog that was severely beaten (by them) and I’d euthanize – no, – that’s the wrong word: EXECUTE them – and then I’d be in jail for life.

  18. Kirsti Haaka

    Thank you for your article. I think every profession deals with colleague suicide. May I remark that a person does not make a choice to die by suicide. “Chosen to die by suicide”.
    A person suffers from a debilitating mental illness that in the end leads to suicide.
    As a veteran police officer who has investigated many sudden deaths you are correct that death by suicide is a very complex series of events. Prevention and support are even harder for professionals to source out and accept. It is difficult to fight the stigma often associated with mental illness. But we must try to reach out, if you are suffering get help. Talk to a trusted friend. If necessary get yourself to emergency services. Your life matters.

    • Thank you for sincere comments. You’re absolutely correct about the term “choose” and I have updated the post accordingly. I appreciate you calling my attention to this phrasing. I was determined not to use the phrase “commit suicide” because dying by suicide is no longer a crime as the term and history of it implies. Thank you again for your share of encouraging words!

  19. Wendy L.

    I left Veterinary medicine after almost 20 years of service. ” It’s just a dog.” “I can’t feed my kids.” I got tired of the disregard by some of the clients. Sleepless nights worrying about patients, verbal abuse by clients, and the extreme psychological pain of loosing any fur friend finally wore me down. Thank you for this article. It is long over due!!

  20. Melinda

    This is a huge concern. Having worked in the Veterinary field for 20 years, I’ve seen this occur all to often. Let’s also remember the Veterinary staff. We may not have the high loans for college, however we get hammered with all the other stuff as well. We get emotionally beat up as well. We get or like me, have compassion fatigue. Suicide with staff is increasing as well.

  21. Aireal

    Thank you for this, RVTs usually get out with very little debt, but because we earn so much less then our human counterparts (even though we do so much more) we do feel pain in the bank account as well.
    As for the rest of it, our angle of the relationship is somewhay different, but we feel so many of the same pressures, as well as are treated just as poorly by clients. We feel the pain with you.

    • Veterinary technicians, assistants, and client service representatives undoubtedly experience similarly pain! Thank you for reading and sharing.

  22. France

    Thank you for opening my eyes to this issue. When I first read the reasons for suicide I thought one reason would be the fact that vets may treat some animals that don’t receive adequate care. Their owners refuse to pursue treatment and their pet suffers and dies. I hope this doesn’t happen often.

    • Thank you for reading the post! I believe a family’s inability or unwillingness to heed a veterinarian’s recommendations is unquestionably a stressor, and contributes to psychological pain. In my mind, this type of stress falls under the category “Perfectionistic Personalities” because while we truly try not to judge a family, we don’t like losing for our patients.

  23. ColoradoWildflower

    Interesting writing. Everyone has their character defects. Just hope it is not posted on a Small Business owners Facebook, not such great advertising for your fellow employee’s putting in their best and working hard for NEW clientele to enter your business.
    Your employees strive to keep your client’s happy!
    Posting this on your business social media is pure unprofessionalism.

    • Thank you for your share of words. While I respect your opinion and appreciate civil discourse, I very much disagree with your statements. It’s my hope all veterinary hospitals, animal advocacy groups, rescue organizations, veterinarians themselves, and yes, even pet parents, will share this information on their business social media sites, as well as their personal ones. I don’t believe such a distribution of information is unprofessional at all. Rather, increased visibility and awareness could help bridge the gap to more effective partnerships between pet parents and veterinarians.

  24. Almudena Vaquero

    Even though, we are proud to be Vets, don’t we? Thank you for write this post and share.

  25. Onecutebyrd

    The one issue I have about veterinarian education is a lot of these schools are compensated by large pet food companies and the vets are swayed to recommend some of this pet food or pet supplies. A lot of these products are not good for animals and they end up making animals very sick or they lack a basic nutrient your pet needs. Having said that I have a very good vet I have gone to for years. I will be very sad when she retires as she is one exotic specialist I trust with my parrot.

    • Thank you for your comments. I certainly appreciate hearing the opinions of others, and do appreciate civil discourse. With that being said, I fear you may not be pleased or ready to hear my response. I’m not going to comment on your believe food produced by these companies is “not good for animals” because I’m not going to allow anyone to hijack this important post with unsubstantiated safety claims. However, I must comment on your statement that “a lot of these schools” receive funding from large pet food companies. This is correct. However, your assumption veterinarians are “swayed to recommend” the food produced by these companies is simply rubbish. It’s a prime example of ‘relationship implies causation’ fallacy or ‘cum hoc ergo propter hoc.” Sadly, it’s also one veterinarians hear repeated over and over to them with no evidence from the accusers to back their erroneous statements. What you may not realize is such accusations are entirely disrespectful. They impugn our integrity as legitimate medical professionals and patient advocates. They imply veterinarians will alter medical recommendations because of corporate influence. Can you not see how insulting such accusations are? This is bullying, and I hope veterinarians will stop tolerating it. I hope they will unwaveringly start calling out pet parents who make these false claims. I hope they’ll start more effectively educating the pet-owning public. In this blog post I shared a statement from a colleague: “Animal owners like us, but they don’t respect us.” By saying veterinarians are “swayed” by pet food companies, you sadly prove my colleague right. You malign veterinarians’ medical expertise because you’re ignorant about pet nutrition. Maybe you think grains are bad for all pets. Maybe you believe chicken or bone meal is inherently unhealthy. Maybe you believe misleading information from the pet food companies themselves because they’ve done an incredible job brainwashing pet parents into believing bad information to sell their products. I believe it would be wonderful to see pet parents take the advice of their pet’s doctor – an actual experienced medical professional – over that from fancy pet food commercials or online support groups with no medical or nutritional substance to back their claims. Just some food for thought…

  26. Norma Corsini

    I have good reason to love and respect all my veterinarians. It hurts me when they are unjust criticized. Thank you for giving me arguments to defend them!

  27. Marc Mitchell, DVM

    Very well done! The fact the you respond to everyone’s comments speaks volumes to the kind of person you are. You clearly go the extra mile like so many vets (and other professionals). It’s that kind of caring that can burn people out as you outlined so well in the article.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate them very much. I hope you’ll share the post with your clients so they know the severity of this problem in our profession.

  28. CatDoc

    Thank you so much for speaking out on behalf of our profession. On those days when it all feels hopeless, it would be helpful to have clients understand some of what we are dealing with.

  29. Elisa Salas

    I have lost colleagues to this terrible illness. Suicide leaves eveyone questioning, “Why?”

    The pain of recriminations is real. I found practice to be too high a cost to my mental health. I would make recommendations for the best medicine to only have people who lacked my education or expertise question my motivations.

    Although popular with clients and staff, I left clinical practice. I enjoy diagnostics due to the rarity of these types of interactions.

    I hope all reading remember in all interactions, most people are only attempting to do their best.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing words Dr. Salas. Your statement about all trying to always assume positive intent is very important (and often hard to do).

    • Jen Welch

      10+ years in the industry as support staff and management. We must also remember that depression is a diagnosable and treatable disease. We need to educate on this. Although I am very sensitive to this issue, I believe that articles like these may not always be helpful to our plight as they pit us against the pet owning public. I believe that if you reread your article, you may find that instead of discussing the true issue of depression and mental illness at hand, you instead list all of the things that the pet owning public does TO veterinarians, as though those are the causes of veterinarian suicide. They are not, depression and mental illness are the causes. We cannot do anything about the public, but we can teach boundaries, coping skills, and signs and symptoms of depression and encourage them to seek treatment. Consider your title, “Are you killing your veterinarian?” Of course not! Depression and mental illness are killing veterinarians, not the pet owning public.

      • Thank you for reading and sharing words. I respect your opinion, but simply don’t agree with all of your suppositions. Further, mental health science proves some of your statements are simply inaccurate. The goal of my blog post was not to discuss depression and mental illness. Rather it was to highlight some of the documented factors that contribute to my colleagues dying by suicide, one of which is mental illness. However, to state every veterinarian who dies by suicide has depression or a mental health disorder is an inaccurate and potentially dangerous generalization. People who attempt suicide are often acutely distressed. Mental health experts agree the vast majority are depressed to some extent. With that being said, I believe it’s important to remember this depression may be either a reactive depression that is an entirely normal reaction to difficult circumstance OR it may be an endogenous depression that is the result of a diagnosable mental illness with other underlying causes. Of course, it may also be a combination of the two in some individuals. What my blog post does is bring to the forefront some of the factors that contribute to the current epidemic of veterinarian suicide. I agree veterinarians should be provided resources to teach coping strategies and self-care. But I argue we can do something with the pet-owning public. I’m truly hopeful that increase awareness of these factors could go a long way toward enhancing the partnership between pet owners and veterinarians.

  30. John C

    Thank you for addressing this difficult topic. My oldest brother had been a practicing veterinarian for many years when he committed suicide. I miss him!

  31. Robert Foglia DVM

    Thank you for helping to shed some light on what is a truly tragic reality in our profession. I have lost colleagues to suicide, and it is devastating. This can be a very stressful profession and I’m sure most of us have experienced many of the points you mentioned in our own lives. We all cope differently with stress, but hopefully this will be one more steppingstone towards a better understanding.
    Thank you again,

  32. Kathy Rasmussen

    I have been mostly fortunate with the vets I have gone to, they are caring people that want the best for my babies. When I don’t agree with the vet we talk it over and come to an understanding my current vet has even asked me questions about raw feeding after seeing how healthy my dogs are and while they don’t promote a raw diet they do accept it. They have also continued their education and added some holistic training.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing words. I believe it is truly important for pet parents to recognize veterinarians as medical experts. Too often pet parents form opinions about medical issues based on inaccurate and unsubstantiated information from other pet parents, friends/family, breeders, and/or the internet support groups. Despite their inability to substantively back-up their opinions with sound medical evidence, these pet owners hold steadfast to their opinions, are unwilling to hear sound medical advice, and often become argumentative, completely dismissing the educated and expert medical opinions of their veterinarians. While I appreciate civil discourse at times, in my opinion, such behavior is completely disrespectful of the expertise veterinarians bring to the proverbial plate, and only serves to drive unhealthy relationships between veterinarians and pet parents.

  33. Rose

    Your words are inspiring, they help make some sense of the colleagues that each and every one of us has lost to suicide or those who simply chose to walk away from their vocation.
    Sadly those who read it and connect are the good guys, the pet owners who respect us and value our skills.
    No matter how many thank you we get it is the accusations that cause us disproportionate pain and self doubt. Managing that seems to be the art to surviving the world of veterinary medicine. Value yourself above all else.

  34. steve miller

    Thanks for publishing this post.

    I must say, I have found myself thinking some of those thoughts especially with respect to the cost of vet care. I have not experienced the thought my vet was not competent. Quite the opposite.

    I have an excellent vet who has diagnosed correctly much more than not. However, he is expensive when compared to another vet I’ve used. They are both excellent vets, yet one is 1/3 the cost.

    For example a tooth extraction is $1100-$1200 with one vet; and $350 for the other. And they both use anesthesia. I would use the less expensive vet more often, but he’s located 60 miles away.

    I understand the business side of having to run a practice. Quality/experienced staff comes with higher costs.

    • Thank you for reading. You are correct by stating state-of-the art equipment and facilities, as well as highly trained and experiences doctors and support staff come with certain overhead costs that must be covered. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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