Resource support

Suicide prevention body offers support for veterinary professionals

Not One More Vet helps people in crisis and works to improve mental health with the help of industry partners like Suveto

The National Suicide Hotline can be contacted at (800) 273-8255 or 988.

One in 6 veterinarians considers suicide1 and, in a 1995 study of California veterinarians, the suicide rate was 2.6 times that of the general public.2 According to the non-profit organization Not One More Vet (NOMV), cyberbullying, ethical and moral dilemmas, and education-related debt are among the factors that affect the mental health of veterinary professions.3

In 2014, the death of Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, eminent animal behaviorist, trainer, author and speaker,4 inspired the founding of NOMV. The organization, which focuses on suicide prevention in the veterinary profession, was initially a social media group whose engagement grew rapidly.

“Our founder, Dr. Nicole McArthur, just wanted a space to talk to her classmates in veterinary school about what was happening in our profession,” said Carrie Jurney, DVM, DACVIM, president of NOMV, in a interview with dvm360®. These classmates invited friends, who then invited their friends, and so on, according to Jurney.

The organization has since expanded its base from just veterinarians to vet techs and other industry professionals as well as students, Jurney noted. “Now we serve nearly 40,000 veterinary professionals around the world,” she added.

The organization’s impact also reaches supporters like Suveto, a network of veterinary hospitals that supports practice ownership and career development.

Through the company’s Let’s Move program, individuals were encouraged to focus on their own physical, mental and social well-being. Participants logged various activities, including those that improved their fitness goals, developed hobbies, and tried new things. Each registered activity was assigned a monetary amount which was combined with personal donations to raise funds for NOMV. Plus, “it really built community, which also improves well-being,” said Courtney Post, president of Suveto, of the program.

“The 2 overlaps between the 2 companies are connections and community. The more we expose NOMV to the profession, the more community it creates,” said Tosha Zimmerman, CVT, LVT, Director of Veterinary Support Training and Development for Suveto.

According to Janel Eichhorn, vice president of brand and marketing for Suveto, 308 participants in the company’s Let’s Move program registered a collective 7,000 actions to benefit NOMV. Suveto officials recently presented a check to NOMV for $11,805 at the 2022 American Veterinary Medical Association convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Jurney said the funding supports the services provided by NOMV and that the organization is committed to providing free resources to its community of veterinary professionals. “I think the thing most people know us for is peer support. That’s not all we do,” Jurney said.

Suicide prevention also includes real-world challenges that affect mental health, she said. For example, someone in financial difficulty might be about to lose their home due to eviction. “We believe that the issues we face with wellness and suicidality in our profession are multifactorial, and so we try to attack the problem from as many angles as possible,” Jurney said.

Overall, the organization provides assistance to veterinary professionals who are in mental health crisis and/or in financial crisis. Resources include private peer-to-peer Facebook forums; the Lifeboat program with trained volunteers offering support and educational presentations as well as grants for individuals and practices.4

“We are very grateful to the organizations [that] support the work we do,” Jurney added.

References

  1. Nett RJ, Witte TK, Holzbauer SM, et al. Suicide risk factors, attitudes toward mental illness, and practice-related stressors among American veterinarians. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2015 ; 247(8), 945-955. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.247.8.945
  2. Miller JM, Beaumont JJ. Suicide, cancer, and other causes of death among California veterinarians, 1960‐1992. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 1995;27(1), 37-49. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.4700270105
  3. The veterinary community is stunned by the unexpected death of Sophia Yin. dvm360®. September 30, 2014. Accessed September 9, 2022. https://www.dvm360.com/view/veterinary-community-stunned-sophia-yins-unexpected-death
  4. Not another vet. Accessed September 9, 2022. https://www.nomv.org/