Suicide – By the 1990s, the science of psychiatry in the US had focused its attention on depression, which has hit one profession especially hard. Your pet dog can give you clues about your community’s health, but what about your dog’s health? There may not be anyone to take care of your pet in the future since there is such a high suicide rate among veterinarians.

It’s a definite fact that veterinarians (in the UK anyway) are 4 times as likely to commit suicide than the general public to commit suicide: 5 or 6 of the UK’s 16,000 veterinarians kill themselves every year.

On CNN, Tom Watkins quotes psychologist David Bartram as saying, “What isn’t certain is why.” Bartram says that the suicide rate among Vets is “far and away the highest suicide rate of any other occupational group.”

Sociologist Allan Horwitz is interested in the fact that, in the 1960s, anxiety was the main diagnosis among psychologists. He thinks this has to do with aggressive drug advertising (and lobbying of doctors by drug companies). In 1962, 12 million people had been diagnosed with anxiety disorders and just 4 million were labeled depressed, but by 1975, 18 million people were diagnosed as depressed, compared with just 13 million with anxiety disorders. According to Horwitz, by 2000, 10% of the American population received antidepressant prescriptions.

Edward Shorter, who teaches the history of medicine and psychiatry, says, “This makes physicians sound like idiots, but they are very much the prey of drug-company advertising. Whatever diagnosis is being advertised will end up as the diagnosis given clinically. That is the reality.”

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