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A Dogged Pursuit to Prevent Veterinary Suicide: Caring for Our Animal Caregivers

Room B

1 CE Hour

Presented By

  • -
    In-Person, Live Webinar



Suicidality encompasses suicidal ideations, plans, attempts, and death by suicide (Crosby et al., 2011; Örengül et al., 2019; Stone et al., 2017). It has been well-documented that healthcare professionals are at an elevated risk for adverse mental health outcomes and suicidality due, in part, to occupational risk factors; however, the impact of occupational hazards among veterinary professionals has been lesser-addressed and historically understudied. Recent research efforts have sought to satisfy this gap in the literature, and findings have demonstrated veterinary professionals are experiencing higher suicide rates than other healthcare professionals and the public. For instance, veterinarians have been identified to be at a 2x and 4x greater likelihood to die by suicide than human healthcare professionals and the public, respectively (Bartram & Baldwin, 2008). In addition to elevated rates of deleterious mental health outcomes among veterinary students, it has been revealed 11% of veterinary support staff experience suicidality, and male- and female-identifying veterinary technicians are at a 5x and 2.3x greater likelihood, respectively, to die by suicide than the public (Volk et al., 2022; Witte et al., 2019).


In accordance with the Spectrum of Prevention, it is imperative that efforts to ameliorate suicidality in veterinary medicine include, among other things, strengthening veterinary professionals’ individual knowledge and skills as well as educating community providers (e.g., counselors, veterinary social workers) about the occupational hazards inherent in the field.


Developed from a thorough review and incorporation of scholarly literature, this presentation seeks to satisfy suicide prevention goals by providing participants with an overview of suicidality, specifically within the field of veterinary medicine. Evidence-based findings are imparted to equip participants with knowledge about the history and prevalence of suicide as well as the occupation-specific risk factors for (e.g., financial instability/student debt, client maltreatment, demanding work/work hours) and protective factors (e.g., supportive policies and practices, connection to community, caring friends and family) against suicidality among veterinary professionals.


Participants can expect to learn about suicide-related warning signs (e.g., clinical depression, changes in behavior, suicide talk) as well as healthy strategies to elevate their ability to care for themselves, intervene when others are in distress, and promote healthy workspaces. Resources and specific calls to action will be discussed to enhance resilience and facilitate the mission of preventing suicide and caring for our animal caregivers. Intended beneficiaries of this presentation include veterinary students and professionals, counseling students and professionals, and veterinary social workers/students.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Participants will be able to identify and define the 4 components of suicidality.

  • Participants will be able to cite at least 5 statistics related to veterinary mental health, 5 risk and protective factors, as well as 3 warning signs for suicidality.

  • Participants will learn and be able to practice at least 3 healthy strategies for elevating mental health and preventing suicidality among themselves and/or others.

CE Policy
This course is fiscally sponsored by International Association of Veterinary Social Work. There may be potential biases or conflicts of interest inherent to this relationship, and it must be disclosed to participants. These conflicts of interest have no bearing on the course content and have been resolved.
Tiana Kelly
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