Veterinarian: a profession in mourning for suicides

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This alarming finding was drawn up by a study by the association Vétos-Entraide and the National Council of the Order of Veterinarians (CNOV). Carried out with 3,244 professionals (almost 18% of veterinarians), it was directed by Didier Truchot, professor of social psychology at the University of Burgundy-Franc Comté. Emotional exhaustion This work has identified an index of emotional exhaustion in veterinarians – a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion – higher than that of livestock farmers, whose discomfort has been documented many times, explains the academic. The researcher said he was surprised by these figures, as they contrast with the positive image of the profession among children and animal lovers from Gradignan (Gironde) and member of the CNOV. “We all have in our promotions, in our direct professional environment, colleagues who have committed suicide,” he breathes. “Eight vets I knew killed themselves,” including “three classmates.” These individual dramas remain little mentioned outside the profession, but they have a strong impact within it, he notes: “It’s a very small environment, it’s like a family.” “The medicine in the drawer “This prevalence of the action is explained in particular by “the fact of having the drug in the drawer”, says Didier Truchot. Vets sacrifice living things and therefore have the skills and equipment to end their lives. “It’s like the farmers who have the shotgun or the rope in the barn,” he points out, identifying other parallels between the two backgrounds: “These are historically male professions where you don’t go to get help when you’re in trouble.” “I have already euthanized 2,500 chickens on my own. You better be tough on that day” Likewise, the emotional burden is underestimated since veterinarians are exposed to the suffering of animals and owners. Another factor cited by veterinarians: the practice of euthanasia, which can be very varied (from the family dog ​​that is suffering and for which there is no hope of recovery, to herds of animals for health reasons). “I don’t know a vet who doesn’t pay attention to it” , explains David Quint, vice-president of the national union of vets in liberal practice and who practices in Corrèze. “A few years ago I slaughtered a herd of cows poisoned by a fire. I had the breeder next to me who was crying bitterly”, recalls David Quint. “You are marked for life by these situations”. “When there is an epidemic of avian flu, you kill all the animals you treat and this has a psychological impact”, adds Hélène Esqurial, a veterinarian specializing in poultry in the Land is. “I have already slaughtered only 2,500 chickens. You better be strong that day.” They leave the profession. Other stressors come into play in burnouts and suicidal thoughts among vets: work overload, workaholism, confrontation with animal owners, fear of error, lists Didier Truchot. Veterinarians also suffer from a “money bomb” image, laments David Quint. They are criticized for their prices because clients “don’t know what a surgical intervention or an MRI really costs,” he points out .All these elements contribute to the strong gap between the expectations and the reality of the profession, for which the aspiring veterinarians are not sufficiently prepared, judge all the interviewed veterinarians. “We are supposed to know everything, do everything and with the minimum possible means”, summarizes William Addey, veterinarian in Buchy (Seine-Maritime) and member of the Veto-Entraides association, created to respond to the discomfort of veterinarians.
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