Not One More Vet (NOMV)

In 2014, a new Facebook group was started called Not One More Vet (NOMV) by a wonderful veterinarian named Nicole. She was pained by the death of Sophia Yin from mental illness. Nicole thought this Facebook page would be a good way for close veterinary friends to talk about the stresses that we go through and to hopefully make an impact, however small, in veterinary medicine. It could be a place to start changing the way we view mental illness and suicide as a profession. Even the CDC has noticed that veterinary medicine has an unusually high number of anxiety, depression, and suicide, to the point that the CDC has been working on figuring out why this is the case. There are many theories, including access to methods, frequent explanation and belief that euthanasia is often the best (or only) option, perfectionism, compassion fatigue, and many others.


I was lucky enough to be asked to join this group about 2 weeks after it began. I have made new friends and seen a change in my own mental health for the better. In August of 2016, I heard that there was a backlog of people trying to join the group, but it was becoming more and more difficult to verify that people were in fact veterinarians, so I saw a need and offered to help. The group of 4 admins (Nicole, Carrie, Jason, and David) jumped on the offer and the as more veterinarians were approved to join, the requests to join came in exponentially, we have added 2 additional admins (Nora and Leigh to help as our international contingency has grown dramatically). As of today (April 1, 2017), it is no joke, but the group has reached 11,400 members! Wow, is it a lot of work to keep track of everyone and see that when they cry out for help, we are there to give it to them.

Despite having so many veterinarians connected and doing a lot to help them, we have not been able to stop the suicides. We have stopped some of them, and multiple people have come to us to share their stories of coming back from the abyss of depression and the edge of suicide and surviving. Until we can reach them all, we are not done. For this reason, Nicole, Carrie, Jason, David, and I have started Not One More Vet (non-profit status pending). On that page, we have resources available for anyone in the midst of a mental health crisis. There is also a location on the web page for veterinarians to register to join the Facebook group, as well as links to Your Daily Dose, our self care blog, and ways to contact us for speaking engagements, donation information, or general questions.

A fellow veterinarian was given this “Veterinary Survival Kit” along with the mentioned items after speaking to a middle school class!

 

If you are a pet owner and appreciate your veterinarian, please let them know! Some days we go from a euthanasia to a new puppy appointment to a giving devastating news to a family to a sick animal that just needs a little extra help to get better. We do our best to be positive and support you. We may not be able to say it, but sometimes, we (and our support staff) need your support, too. A hug, a smile, a kind word, or even some chocolate or fruit can go a long way.

Are you a veterinarian or have a loved one that is a veterinarian that you think may need help? Please contact us. We would love to help and serve you!

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7 thoughts on “Not One More Vet (NOMV)

  1. I am a veterinarian, and like so many other DVMs have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts in the past but am in a good place now. I only came close to suicide once, in third year of vet school. The academic pressure was insane, and killing surgery dogs and bringing them back, then killing them again and bringing them back again, then finally killing them wasn’t much fun. Over 25 years in veterinary medicine I’ve known several vets who have taken their own lives, and many others who self medicate with alcohol, drugs or sex. Sometimes all three. I despise Facebook for a million reasons so won’t be joining any groups, but think this is a great idea.

    I work in high volume spay/neuter these days, it limits my contact with clients, and simplifies my days which helps my mental state a lot. I don’t need to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out Pseudomonas to feel good about myself or pay the bills. Just removing animals reproductive organs and vaccinating them works for me. Just wanted to say that the problem is really acute in shelter medicine, the field where I used to work. Many of the vets who work in this area are very caring people, who work in isolation from other vets, female and younger, so at increased risk. If you haven’t done so already you should reach out to ASV and HSVMA.

    I found having a spouse that really cares about you helps a lot. Also getting older and realizing life is damn short, and you are going to check out one day anyway, so why rush it?

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    • Dave, you are not alone, we are allone! Thankfully, the practice of terminal surgeries is very rare now. I can’t imagine that pain that would have caused you, and others. Should you ever need anything, even though you are not a part of Facebook, please reach out to us at nomv.org. We have a few ways to reach out to us.

      Hug your spouse and rejoice in each day that you have together. Blessings to you!

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  2. What a beautiful initiative, Melanie. I’m so glad you’re a part of it. Last year, for the A-to-Z, I wrote a series on dog rescue, but one of the posts—V—was for vets. You guys are AMAZING. Us rescuers are nothing but dilettantes compared to you… And yes, it’s a hard, hard profession. I’m not surprised about the level of depression and suicide… and it’s a crying shame, really, because you’re the créme de la créme in all sorts of ways. If more people had even a fraction of the heart—the compassion, the selflessness, the sheer professionalism—that you guys have, if the world insisted that more people develop the variety of skills that you guys need to not just know but dominate and put into use on a daily basis… well, it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I’ll leave you a link to the post in case you want to read it, and please stay strong, for yourself and in helping others stay strong. Vets really do make the world a better place.
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs
    (This is the vet post: Vets, Unsung Heroes )

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    • Than you for your words of compassion and support. This past week has been a hard one for the veterinary community. There have been three suicides by veterinary staff in the Dallas area this past week. My heart aches that we can’t reach everyone. Please share within the rescue community how hard we struggle to support our patients and our clients. That when someone gets upset and goes on a rampage about “a horrible vet” it effects us all. We are still human. Sometimes, we make mistakes, but we are doing the best we can in any situation. Thank you for supporting us. I just read your blog post, and I am in tears. So many people do not understand. It is nice to see/hear when someone does. Thank you.

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      • I’m so sorry to hear about the three suicides… How helpless one feels. How… ineffectual. Yes, I’m sure you’re berating yourself on not having reached them—but please do make the effort to insert, forcibly if need be, a thought for the ones you *have* reached, several of whom you’ve undoubtedly pulled back from the brink. Do mourn the losses—not because you failed in any way, but simply because they deserve to be mourned; as I said before, the world needs more, not less, of you—but temper it as best you can with the certainty that you being there, you doing the work you do, does save lives. Human and, no less important, animal.

        Sending you a big, big hug, all the way from Curaçao 🙂
        Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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      • Thank you. I hear you. It is an area that I struggle with in my own life: seeing the positive outcomes and not focusing on the areas that I have “failed” (even though I know that I never even had the opportunity to help in most of those cases). I will mourn with others as the losses, I celebrate the lives that they lived and the lives that we may still touch.

        Thank you for your hugs! They are appreciated! I do hope to make it to Curaçao some day!

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