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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new report finds there is an increase in the number of female veterinarians committing suicide. Suicide rates among veterinarians have been well above the national average, but new research published by the American Veterinary Medical Association says, for the first time, female vets are increasingly more likely to take their own lives.
Meghan Schuh loves being a veterinarian, working with pets and people, but she says compassion fatigue and burnout are hazards of the profession.
“Taking a look at our whole emotional and mental well-being is not something we do in the field much,” said Schuh.
According to a CDC study, male veterinarians are twice as likely to die by suicide than the average American, and female veterinarians are three-and-a-half times as likely.
“Honestly, sadly, it doesn’t sound all that surprising,” said Schuh.
Schuh says she can relate to the occupational stress the study lists as a potential factor.
“I definitely have felt some of that,” said Schuh.
Shelly Waller, a veterinary medicine counselor, says the profession comes with unique stresses.
“The exposure to euthanasia and end-of-life decisions, guiding owners through that process, communicating bad news,” explained Waller.
Vet students are now being offered wellness resources, counseling and mindfulness opportunities.
“I think framing it in a way, where we’re not just saying, like, ‘This is OK and normal.’ It is OK you’re feeling that way, but at the same time, how can we come together and make that better,” said Schuh.
There’s a new website called Mighty Vet that’s designed to help veterinarians with the challenges they face.
The research pointed out that more than 60 percent of vets in the United States are women.