March Wellness Corner

During the first week of March, the veterinary community has been saddened to learn of multiple veterinary professionals who ended their life by suicide. This has inspired this special issue of PPV’s monthly wellness newsletter. From the entire People, Pets & Vets family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of these amazing professionals during this difficult time.

The veterinary community has faced mental health challenges for many years, and the time is now to work towards ending the stigma that is costing lives. Between balancing student debt, the emotional toll of care, and a demanding career environment, please take a moment to think about the personal and wellbeing needs of your veterinary teams. They are humans, too. Treat them with grace and respect as they work hard to care for pets in the community.

PPV proudly supports and stands behind the important organization “Not One More Vet.” You can learn more about the important work they are doing by visiting https://www.nomv.org/. Dr. Nicole McArthur founded this organization. This is an online support group with over 16,000 veterinary professionals worldwide that exists to create a sense of community and support.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call (800) 273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. Your life and wellbeing matter.

University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work program – Any veterinarian, not just Tennessee graduates, can contact a veterinary social worker at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville School of Veterinary Social Work. Call 1-865-755-8839 during business hours, or email [email protected].

While suicide can be uncomfortable to talk about, it is important to acknowledge that it is a very real risk, especially in the veterinary profession. You and your teams are working tirelessly to care for the pets in your community, but it is important that you don’t forget to care for yourself as well. We are passionate people who are often in stressful situations, so it’s important to take a moment to talk about suicide prevention.

It is important to acknowledge that it is okay to not feel okay and that there are plenty of resources and support pathways for you. Life can be hard, but how we might feel today is not how we will feel forever.

A suicide attempt is a cry for help that should never be taken lightly. People who attempt suicide are usually struggling with mental health challenges, which commonly include major depression or bipolar disorder. How do you know if someone is contemplating suicide? Here’s what to look for if you think your loved one is at risk.

  • Making verbal suicide threats like, “You’d be better off without me.” or “Maybe I won’t be around.”
  • Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Major depression
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Lack of interest in future plans
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Extreme mood swings

Learn about what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm, and how you can make a difference in suicide prevention by visiting https://go.usa.gov/xyxGa.

While the veterinary industry can be stressful and emotional, it is also led by some of the most inspirational leaders in the world. March is Women’s History Month, and March 8th was International Women’s Day. PPV is proud of all of our women veterinary leaders and team members who are providing passionate care each day. We celebrate their accomplishments and dedication to our industry, organization, and their communities. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us celebrate Dr. Florence Kimball, the first American woman to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1910. Today and every day, we are proud to support and stand behind all of our PPV family members who make history in their own communities one pet at a time.