Suicide on the rise among veterinarians

Veterinarian suicides are on the rise. From 2000 to 2015, ten percent of deaths among female veterinarians were attributed to suicide.

"It's kind of a crazy job," said Veterinary Technician Carrie Rountree.  "It's hard."

It can be a tough job, but for Carrie, it's a passion and a purpose.

"We monitor for anesthesia, we do radio graphs, we fill meds, we do blood work, place catheters," said Rountree.

She's been a vet tech for 15 years now.

"The love I have for animals is just something that's always been a part of me," said Rountree.  "Pretty much we carry a lot of jobs in one."

Those jobs aren't always easy.  Just ask former vet tech Rachel Wood.

"My doctor diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome, and it got to the point where I was working all the time," Wood said.

Rachel was a Vet Tech for about nine and a half years.

"Animals love unconditionally," said Wood. "They don't judge you for your problems and that's why we love them so much."

"So we get very attached to our patients, and so if we lose them or the outcome isn't good with their prognosis, it's hard and it takes emotional drainage on you," Rountree said.

According to the CDC, that emotional drainage is contributing to an increase in suicides among veterinarians.

"My very good friend Amanda Ryan committed suicide at work, and she was a very close friend of mine who was also a vet tech."

"She was amazing and one of those characters-- you meet her once and know her," added Wood.

Sadly, Amanda isn't alone.  A study concluded that veterinarians are three and a half times more likely to consider suicide than members of the general population.

"It's not shocking because I see what's happening all the time. I wound up having to leave the field because I don't want to be in the position where I'm feeling those things all the time," Wood said. 

"As far as vets go, their school debt to income ratio is insane," added Rountree. "Like they spend years and countless ends of money to get this job to become a vet and then they get out and the job they are getting paid to do and that they spent all these years to earn, isn't really matching up to pay off debt-- so you always feel behind and struggling."

According to the CDC, factors like long work hours and work overload, client expectations and complaints, euthanasia knowledge and procedures, and an increase in educational debt to income ratio all contribute to the higher suicide rate.

"People in this field love animals-- that's a given," Wood said.  "We aren't in it for the money because we don't get paid much in this job."

"They think we're making crazy amounts of money, but we're really not," said Rountree.

"I want to be there, but it's driving me crazy and killing me," Wood said.  "I might go back one day-- but it will take a number of years to recover from what I've gone through."

Carrie Rountree made a Facebook page called "The Fighting Blues for Amanda," where people in the vet field can go for support-- and everyone can remember their friend.

"If you know someone in a state of depression or that has suicidal thoughts, be there for them and reach out to them," Rountree said.  "And be that friend to them-- they feel they have no one and they do-- so just let them know you care about them and are there for them no matter what."