Suicide rates in veterinarians far exceed national average, what can be done?

Dec 29, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:37 am

a veterinarian and girl hold a dog, suicide rates in veterinarians are a concern...

Dr. Isaac Bott, a veterinarian, right gets ready to vaccinate Lunita as Lesly Ramirez helps hold Lunita at Mountain West Animal Hospital in Springville on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The person who takes care of your pets is several times more likely to die by suicide than those in the average population. Research shows that suicide rates are up to four times higher for veterinarians. The veterinary industry is trying to curb this trend.

A 2019 study found that between 1979 and 2015, both male and female veterinarians experienced higher rates of suicide than the rest of the U.S.

Dr. Kim Camacho is a doctor of veterinary medicine who specializes in cats. She said she got into vet medicine for the same reason many do.

“I felt like it was a good way to couple my love of animals with wanting to help people in general too.”

Camacho has been a vet for over two decades. She said the job brings joy through the long-term relationships she develops with her clients. And, she said, she enjoys seeing cats through their entire life.

But the life of a veterinarian comes with its challenges. Now, Camacho works part-time.

“Things have changed in this industry since I first graduated, so there’s much more demand. People Google things, people are much more demanding. And I just know that I could not work full time now, for my mental health.”

Factors in high veterinarian suicide rates

For years now, the industry has struggled with things like staff shortages, low pay, and overwhelming workloads.

On top of that, there’s a big emotional toll too.

“I think it’s compassion fatigue because we’re the doctor for the patient. We’re the counselor and financial consultant for the owners,” Camacho said.

The 2019 study said stressors common to the veterinary world can lead to risk factors for suicide, like depression and burnout. 

To address the concerningly high suicide rates, the study pointed in part to several suicide prevention strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

The veterinary industry is making changes

The industry is also making active changes. 

A lot of vet schools around the country now have psychologists and therapists readily available, sometimes even offices in the same building.

Organizations like Not One More Vet aim to provide support to those within the industry, as well as to provide suicide awareness education.

Camacho said she’s noticed the changes firsthand. The clinic she works for is far more attentive to young vets entering the industry.

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotlines

  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

Related: Suicide rates increasing in Utah, but so are available resources

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Mental Health

Katy Welkie, vice president of Intermountain and CEO of Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, ...

Eric Cabrera, Amie Schaeffer

Intermountain Health to open behavioral health center in Taylorsville

Intermountain Health is expanding its behavioral health services. A new center for children and teens will open in Taylorsville in 2025.

5 days ago


Heather Peterson

Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers

SALT LAKE CITY — A sector of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services is connecting those who struggle with mental illnesses with employers, to aid in their recovery. With Individual Placement and Support (IPS) offices across the state, they help those who have suffered from mental health crises or a co-occurring substance use disorder, […]

11 days ago

Getting along with the in-laws can be a tricky - but essential - part of the marriage journey. Utah...

Emma Everett Johnson,

Struggling with in-laws? USU experts have some advice

Struggling with in-laws? You're not alone. The University of Utah has conducted a research study to help people out who have in-law troubles.

20 days ago


Michelle Lee

The impact of spring colors on mental health

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Sally Augustin to learn how we can use spring colors to improve our mental health.

28 days ago

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

1 month ago

Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Josh Scharman conducts the grand opening of the Community Connections...

Eric Cabrera

Social workers with Salt Lake Police Department are responding to more callers than ever

The Community Connection Center social workers who work with the Salt Lake Police Department are getting an increase in mental health-related calls, as a result they have grown their team to able to respond to more.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Suicide rates in veterinarians far exceed national average, what can be done?