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Correction: Mostly Male Veterinarians Die by Suicide

A veterinarian provides first aid for dog

Sadly, more and more people in the U.S. are committing suicide and it is an extremely serious problem. In particular, a Times article noted that veterinarians have a high rate of suicide:

More than three decades of data shows that veterinarians are up to 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than members of the general population, according to new a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

But the main concern of the Time article noted seems to be that female vets are dying at a higher rate than the population:

Death records for more than 11,600 veterinarians filed between 1979 and 2015 showed that almost 400 veterinarians died by suicide during this time period. Consistent with general population trends, more male than female veterinarians died by suicide (326 versus 72) during the study. From 2000 to 2015, roughly 10% of deaths among female veterinarians could be attributed to suicide.

Since deaths by suicide are more rare in women than men generally, this elevated rate made female veterinarians more likely to die by suicide than their peers. The researchers concluded that male veterinarians were 2.1 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population, and female veterinarians were 3.5 times more likely.

So in a 36-year period, on average 2 female vets have killed themselves and roughly 9 or more men a year, yet the story focuses on the fact that a female vet is 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide. The article says that prevention needs to be targeted, but in order to help the most people, the main targets for suicide prevention should be men. But men are an afterthought.

It is only when women have a problem that the media wants public health to "target" and fix the problem. But the treatment for men and women might need to be different. If the focus is mainly on women, men fall through the cracks, even though they are the group most in need of quality, targeted treatment.