Background: Suicide rates are elevated in the veterinary profession in several countries, yet little is known about possible contributory and preventive factors.
Aims: To obtain information from veterinarians with a history of suicidal ideation or behavior about the factors associated with suicidality in their profession.
Methods: We conducted a mixed-methods interview study with 21 UK veterinarians who had attempted suicide or reported recent suicidal ideation. Interview topics included work and nonwork contributory factors, coping mechanisms, and preventive factors.
Results: Self-poisoning was the most common method used or considered by participants. Common contributory factors were workplace relationships, career concerns, patient issues, number of hours and volume of work, and responsibility, although two-thirds of participants reported co-occurring difficult life events. Around half had received a psychiatric diagnosis following their suicidal behavior. Several possible preventive measures were suggested by participants.
Conclusions: Several work- and non-work-related contributory factors to suicidality in the veterinary profession were identified. Future preventive measures may involve better promotion of support services, formal support for recent graduates, and improving employers' attitudes toward work-life balance.