What this pet guardian wants vets everywhere to know…

What every vet needs to know

Recently there has been an “Every Time” post going around social media to try and raise awareness of the risk of suicide in vets and how owners contribute. Tonight though I found a pet guardian that had written a response that I just had to share for every vet everywhere so please share and help make sure your vet gets to see this.

Rachel Allen wrote…

This makes me quite sad. I love my vet. Our family have been with him for over 20 years and he has saved many of our pets lives.

Here is my response for my vet, and to vets everywhere.

For every self-centred, ignorant and demanding client there are many more of us who;

See you handle our beloved pets with the same love, tenderness and respect that we show them.

We notice you are never quick to push us out the door and that you have time to listen to our, possibly often, trivial concerns.

We notice, and are thankful, for how you take the time to explain our pets situation in terms we are understand without frightening us to much.

We notice you don’t drive a Mercedes or Lamborghini. We know that practice expenses are high. We imagine liability insurance to be a depressing figure. We know that your university fees are extraordinary and that you are working to pay them back.

We value your time when we call to ask for some quick advice, we try to limit such intrusions so you’re not inconvenienced. We really appreciate every second of your time.

We know that the cost of our vet bills are high, we know the prescriptions are high but, we also know that’s not your fault. Some of us are literally handing over our pay checks to pay for our beloved pets needs but we do so because we love our pets. We harbour no ill feelings towards you as they are our pets and their expenses are our responsibility. It is not your responsibility to pay for them.

We never forget that you have saved our pets lives. Sometimes many times. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what you go through to save our pets but we love you for the fact that they are able to live another day.

We know that when the time comes you will be there to make sure our beloved pet does not suffer any more pain, that you will help them over that rainbow bridge. We know you will do your best to console us when this happens and we will wonder how much of our pain you will share in that day. We will hope that you know that we are forever grateful.

For every client that brings you grief, please know there are far more of us whose lives you have changed for the better. Every time you fix our beloved pets, every day extra that we get to spend with our pets, because of you, are days that we treasure.

You allow us more joy than you may ever know. For that, for everything you do, we thank-you. ❤

A permanent solution to a temporary problem, suicide, perfectionists, and failure (Day -284)

Vet Suicide Chart

Suicide. Death. The End. Is it an escape? Or being let down?

There was a meme that went round recently of a Dr leaving a consultation room after telling a family their son had died. It was captioned: only one of these people is going back to work today.

Now consider this:

Vets are 4x more likely than the general population, and 2x more likely than those in health care professions to die by suicide (UK study Bartram et al, 2010).

Nearly 1/10 US veterinarians suffer severe psychological distress, and 1/6 have had suicidal thoughts since graduation (CDC Notes, 2014).

Last week 2 vets committed suicide (that I know about).

We want the best vets possible so select the highest achieving perfectionist straight A students there are, push them through the toughest school there is, and put them into a profession where they will fail.

Why fail? Animals will die. No matter how good you are there will be animals you cannot save. Animals that owners decide are too much work or too big for their flat so have you euthanise. Animals that you do everything you know how to save that just die. Animals where owners cannot afford the treatment you want.

And then there are the questions you ask yourself. The questions that keep you from sleep at night. What else could I do better? What could I do different? Could I save that animal?

The next day it repeats. The next week it repeats. These people that have succeeded at everything they have ever done are failing. Nature is beating them in the battle of life.

Then there are owners. Who demand the world for nothing. And then blame the vet when they lose.

Could it actually get worse?

Now there is an even bigger potential problem with social media causing the suicide of vets through cyberbullying. Not by their patients, or owners that they have worked with. Complete strangers that have a single side of the story that judge them.

I saw it on Facebook  last night – a owner posting about making complaints to a vet after their pet died and getting cheered on by people that knew nothing about the backstory – a quick search of the group showed that the owner posted a few days earlier about their pet not eating for several days before they went to the vet…

Yet it is the vets fault the animal died. This perfectionist that tried to fix a problem compounded by the owners delay in seeking treatment who failed. Now judged publically as a failure by people they do not even know.

Is it a problem? Is the suicide rate going go up as cyberbullying increases?

There have been changes, there are people getting involved to reach out and help people who ask for their help. In the UK we have the excellent vetlife helpline which is there for vets in need.

Something that has always confused me is that we are really good at expecting people to come to us. We tend to be reactive rather than proactive. This is what I think the next step in reducing the number of suicides will be. Some kind of proactive system for monitoring the mental health of vets.

Actually around midnight last night I came up with an idea that I am going work on over the next month or so that I hope may be able to do this. I will keep you updated.