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15 Apr 2021

Social Media is Killing Veterinary Professionals

Social Media is Killing Veterinary Professionals

Social media: as comedian Chad Daniels once said, “It’s a place for people to hold unsolicited press conferences.” 

The first social media I remember is Myspace. Before that was online chat rooms. Maybe if we went back to when we all had to wait for dial-up internet, we would have more time to think about what we are going to post or comment on. If I continue, I will really age myself.

It’s no surprise, or maybe it is to some people, that suicide is a sad reality in this world. The act of taking one’s own life. Sounds harsh, right? I used to think that suicide was selfish. I used to be extremely ignorant. It took losing someone I know to suicide to open my eyes. I think that happens to a lot of us. We need a personal experience to awaken us from such ignorance.

It is significantly higher in the veterinary industry. Veterinarians are one of the top professions to die by suicide. Why is that?

In my professional and personal opinion, social media has ruined veterinary medicine. Before the birth of Facebook, people kept their opinions to themselves. Fast-forward to 2021, now people feel entirely too confident. They will post or comment rude, hateful things about veterinary clinics, veterinarians, and the staff whenever and wherever they feel. We are expected to do things for “free” if it is not within their budget. The internet has given people a false sense of security in saying whatever they want about businesses. This weighs heavily on veterinary professionals because we are empaths.

It is behavior like this that is killing veterinary professionals. Not just veterinarians, but veterinary nurses and other support staff. This is a form of online bullying that is driving home the mental health condition(s) from which we may already be suffering. The problem is people are not being held accountable for their actions. There is no punishment for bullying or belittling a veterinary business and its staff.

It seems almost cruel to say that these individuals are directly responsible for suicide within this field, but in a way, it is a true statement. As if the stuff we deal with on a daily basis isn’t enough, we then get to come home and see the slander of our business, coworkers, or the profession as a whole. I’ve seen an entire thread on a group I was in legitimately slander a clinic with veterinarians that I used to work alongside, claiming they “don’t care” and “held their pet hostage.” In a separate thread, unrelated to this one, people were stating a veterinarian should give this person a refund because the thousands of dollars they spent on diagnostics didn’t give them any answers. Like we’re some sort of all-knowing God of Veterinary Medicine. Like our knowledge and skills are worth nothing. Like our feelings and lives don’t matter.

This piece was written by Shena Humbert, LVT, founder of Not Another Vet Nurse, a support group for veterinary nurses to come together in a judgement free zone, to help end the stigma of anxiety and depression, and to help others with mental health.