Kaukauna Veterinary Clinic raising awareness on veterinarian suicide risk
KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WBAY) - The Kaukauna Veterinary Clinic works to keep pets happy and healthy. But recently an industry issue hit close to home when the practice manager learned of a Madison veterinarian who died by suicide last week.
“The reason I had noticed it was because a lot of my friends were posting it on their Facebook page, the veterinary community is very tight,” said Practice Manager and Veterinary Technician Becca Lange. “Actually some of my Facebook friends worked with this person.”
Lange says suicide risk is prevalent in veterinary care.
“It makes you think about your own coworkers and your own situation. Is there anybody battling some of those mental illnesses here that we don’t know about,” said Lange. ”You think about those people close to you. How can I help? What can I do to help my coworkers?”
She posted to the clinic’s Facebook page to try to raise awareness.
A CDC study published in 2019 in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association found, compared to the general population, female veterinarians are 3.5 times more likely and male veterinarians are 2.1 times more likely to die from suicide.
“We’re seeing pets from puppy, kitten, all the way till the end of life. So a lot of times we see them grow up, we see them get sick. We help clients make those decisions as far as end of life, you know, help with euthanasia,” said Lange. “So it is a lot of emotional stress just inherently with the profession.”
Lange adds that sometimes clients take their stress out on staff, others even believe they’re “in it for the money” which can take its toll.
“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching, but you kind of have to think where are these people coming from, they’re not directly attacking us, but it does happen,” said Lange. “A lot of us pour our heart and soul into this job. Long hours, low pay generally. So it is very tough when we’re doing everything we possibly can and to have people say those things it is hard.”
Plus, the pandemic is adding additional stress right now for everyone.
So she hopes by raising awareness now, it will remind people to treat veterinary staff with kindness moving forward.
“We’re doing our best and we want to be there for everyone’s pets and we need to stay healthy to do that as well,” said Lange.
There is a nonprofit “Not One More Vet, Inc.” that works to end suicide in the veterinary community. It has a support network for veterinarians and invest in other resources and programs. Visit its Facebook page or website to learn more.
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