Year: 2020 Source: Veterinary Record. (2020). 186, e2. SIEC No: 20200421

Background Higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide risk have been reported for veterinarians in various studies worldwide. This study investigates whether this is also true for German veterinarians.

Methods A total of 3.118 veterinarians (78.8 per cent female, mean age 41.3 years) between 22 and 69 years were included and compared with two general population samples of the same age range using the Suicide Behaviours Questionnaire-Revised and Patient Health Questionnaire.

Results Current suicidal ideation was found in 19.2 per cent of veterinarians, compared with only 5.7 per cent in the general population. 32.11 per cent of veterinarians were classified with increased suicide risk, compared with 6.62 per cent in the general population. 27.78 per cent of veterinarians screened positive for depression, compared with 3.99 per cent of the general population.

Conclusion The study shows that veterinarians have an increased risk of depression and suicidal ideation and suicide risk compared with the general population in Germany. Similar to previous findings, the level of depression was higher among veterinarians than in the general population. However, this study does not explore causes for higher rates in depression, suicide risk and suicidal ideation. Since other studies strongly suggest specific risk factors lead to higher suicide risk and consequently elevated numbers of completed suicides, future research should focus on identifying and preventing causes.