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Veterinarians kill themselves. An online group has listening and assistance: NPR



Seeing dogs throughout the day has its benefits, says veterinary neurologist Carrie Jerney. But it also has drawbacks, including stress, debt, long hours and facing online bullying.

Janet Delany for NPR


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Janet Delaney for NPR

Seeing dogs throughout the day has its benefits, says veterinary neurologist Carrie Jerney. But it also has drawbacks, including stress, debt, long hours and facing online bullying.

Janet Delaney for NPR

p. Carrie Jerney is on board an online organization that works to prevent suicide. He is not called yet another veterinarian.

This is not a mental health support group for veterans – it is for veterinarians.

Vets kill themselves in alarming numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely and female veterinarians 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide compared to the general population. The much higher percentage of women is particularly concerned because over 60% of veterinarians are women.

"I had 86 people in my vet class," says Jerney. "Completing the class of 2005. Three of them disappeared. They died on their own."

Three of the 86 people in Carrie Jerney's veterinary school class died from suicide, she says.

Janet Delany for NPR


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Janet Delaney for NPR

Three of the 86 people in Carrie Jerney's veterinary school class died from suicide, she says.

Janet Delany for NPR

There is a lot of stress about being a vet. First, there is the financial pressure to pay off expensive education at medical school – recent graduates have over $ 140,000 in debt. And the average vet fee in the United States is about $ 94,000 a year, which is good, but less than half of that is for doctors and surgeons.

Then there is the emotional tension. Every day in the vet can swing between scenes of rapture and anxiety.

This was evident from a visit to the Jerney Clinic in San Jose, California, last month.

The couple introduces their huge Rottweiler to see Jurney. Reuven weighs 113 pounds. The night before, he suddenly couldn't walk.

Ruben lies on the operating table.

Samantha Balaban / NPR


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Samantha Balaban / NPR

Ruben lies on the operating table.

Samantha Balaban / NPR

Jury and her staff must embrace Ruben in order to be raised for examination. The eyes of the big brown dogs seemed to be wide and confused.

"I always say that one of the biggest ironies of my career is that I get into it because I love animals so much," she says. But "there aren't many animals that are ever excited to see me. You know, they are often sore and scared. And then we do weird things they couldn't agree to. And … especially in an emergency hospital like ours, there's no big You still have to deal. "

Ruben has a MRI. Jerney sees knots on the spine that can block his movement and orders immediate surgery.

She uses training to cut through the huge canine flesh and muscles and see what pressure is on Ruben's spinal cord.

Through bone fog and blood, Yurney sees small pieces in Ruben's spine that have hardened around his nerves.

The operation takes more than an hour: a lot of blood, bones and hot bright lights. But Jerry smiles as she slides off her surgical mask to call the couple she calls Ruben's dads.

This is good news this time.

"Hi, Dr. Jerney is calling. We're ready, your baby is waking up," she tells the owners. "They were chronic disks. So they were there for a while and I think they just got out a little bit more. … So we did things a lot better than when we started. So I think we did what we needed to do. I'm doing tonight. "

Isolation, introversion

" I got into this because I love animals so much, "says Carrie Jerney.

Janet Delany for NPR


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Janet Delaney for NPR

"I got into this because I love animals so much," says Carrie Jerney.

Janet Delany for NPR

Veterinarians deal with illness, disability and death daily: "our average Monday morning," as Jerney says.

"It's a very isolating profession. The hours are long. I can't tell you how many dinners with friends I was late or just missed altogether, because it's a case I need right now," she says. " I missed my own birthday dinner. "

Many veterinarians practice on their own, and sometimes they are the only ones who train hundreds of miles, making it difficult to rest.

It's a natural profession for introverts, Nicole MacArthur, of Rocklin, California, founder of "Not One More "We are attracted to animals and then we have to work where we work with humans," says MacArthur. "Animals don't drive themselves here, they don't pay the bills."

Both doctors say the vets they know were targeted by online trolling and threats from pet owners and even strangers accusing them of the death of a much loved animal. In February 2014, Shirley Koshi, a New York City veterinarian, took her own life after a cyberbullying campaign against her.

MacArthur has left the profession twice.

"I had one day that I worked in an emergency and I had three euthanasia within a 30 minute period and everyone was very emotional," she says. "One I thought I would have to call a welfare check to get the police to make sure this man was okay. And yes, I went out. I was like, 'That's right. I'm done. ""

Veterinarians also have access to lethal drugs. That's part of the job.

"It's not a big leap to say, 'I'm a veterinarian who has chronic pain and I have chronic depression, and my clinic is underwater and has no end in sight,'" says McArthur. "And this is the kind of death we can give ourselves. I understand it. I totally get it. I've been there."

Self-administered veterinarians are 2.5 times more likely than the general population to use pharmaceuticals as a method.

The CDC notes that factors including problems that Yurney and MacArthur talk about – debt, long hours, stress, access to lethal drugs – place veterinarians at high risk of suicide compared to the general population.

The MacArthur and Jerney group, not yet another veterinarian, is trying to support veterinarians and drilling for the strain of their work. The Facebook group boasts more than 18,000 members.

Nicole MacArthur is the founder of "No More Vets," which helps veterinarians deal with mental health issues.

Courtesy of Robin Hay


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Courtesy of Robin Hay

Nicole McArthur is the founder of Not Another Vet, which helps veterinarians deal with mental health issues.

Courtesy of Robin Hay

This is not mental health professional support, but rather "a large group of veterinarians who fully understand where you are coming from," as NOMV says. "We are here to listen, perceive and give each other shoulder, ear, and little advice when needed."

The group's blog recommendations highlight the impact of reaching and supporting the group during difficult times. ,

Although McArthur gave up twice, she came back because she loved her, she says. Many veterinarians say that despite the challenges, "I love what I do."

And the day spent with Jerry showed that it was not all doomed and gloomy. A gifted team of nurses and surgeons had helped a large, loving dog to walk again and bring joy to the couple who loved him.

However, a few days after Ruben's surgery, Jerney sends an NPR message. It shows how emotionally invested vets can be in their jobs, both in good times and in bad times.

"Hey Scott. I thought I should let you know that today we lost Ruben. He had a lung problem – a complication of his genetic problem combined with surgery. To be honest – this is numb you came to us to see why work is hard and there is no better example than that. I am devastated. I cried through many moments of my mother-in-law's dinner tonight because my mind is with Reuben and his poor owners.I wonder if there is anything I could do otherwise that I know I did everything I could for him, I still wonder if I could have done more. "


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