Vets in focus as suicides “four times higher than general population”

Portugal’s veterinary association has warned that “various suicides” have been registered among practitioners, putting vets at four times the average risk of suicide than the general population and twice that of “other health professions”.

Marking international day of the animal, the association’s leader Jorge Cid explained that day-to-day psychological stress suffered by the country’s veterinary population has lead to an increasing number of situations of depression and burn-out.

The number of suicides has not been “not one or two”, he told Lusa, adding that people put “a great deal of pressure” on vets which “we sometimes find difficult to deal with”.

Professionals in charge of ‘inspections’ suffer at the hands of what he called” economic agents”, while those in clinical practice “deal many times with death and people’s great sadness”.

“There is a panoply of situations which are extremely difficult, and vets have to have strong physical and moral fibre to cope with them”, he added, suggesting that if veterinary students “knew the reality, pay levels and precarity” of the profession many of them would not enter into it.

Cid’s words were echoed by fellow veterinarian Gonçalo Pereira who told Lusa: “We are a class that is not even prepared to identify our own signs of depression or professional burnout”.

Worst affected, he said, are those working with animals with cancers or behavioural problems as these are the areas with the least number of happy endings.

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