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Veterinarians are at higher risk for suicide than the general population, and 1 reason for this may be veterinarians’ access to and knowledge of pentobarbital—a common suicide method in this population. One possible approach to reducing suicide risk is means safety. This study examined the acceptability and feasibility of means safety protocols in the veterinary workplace.


43 veterinarians from a mix of specialty areas aged 26 to 53 years, currently practicing in the United States, recruited via social media and listservs.


Participants completed a 60- to 90-minute focus group with pre- and post-test surveys. Focus group content was qualitatively analyzed.


Survey responses indicated that that 30% (n = 13) of veteriarians reported storing their pentobarbital unlocked at least part of the time. During focus group discussion, participants perceived work/life balance or being overwhelmed as the most common suicide risk factor in veterinarians, with normalizing mental health emerging as a primary way to improve mental health in veterinarians. Additionally, adding an extra lockbox for pentobarbital/firearms emerged as the most acceptable and feasible means safety method. Finally, at post-test, veterinarians increased in willingness to implement storage protocol changes (P = .02) and were more likely to endorse concern about a coworker’s suicide risk than concern about their own suicide risk (P < .01) as a reason to change pentobarbital storage methods.


Results from this study will inform public messaging campaigns and policy changes for pentobarbital storage and suicide prevention efforts in the veterinary workplace at the individual and organizational level.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association