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  • Author or Editor: Suzanne E. Tomasi x
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In a recent study of suicides and deaths of uncertain intent among US veterinary professionals, Witte et al 1 found that for 34 of 73 (47%) veterinarians, the mechanism of death was classified as poisoning, with 18 of those 34 deaths (or 25% of the total) attributed to pentobarbital, the active ingredient in euthanasia solutions. Even more troubling, for 13 of the 18 deaths attributed to pentobarbital poisoning, the death-related injury occurred at home. Although data were not available on where or how the pentobarbital was procured, it seems likely that in some, if not all, of these cases,

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To assess proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) for suicide among male and female US veterinarians from 1979 through 2015.

DESIGN PMR study.

SAMPLE Death records for 11,620 veterinarians.

PROCEDURES Information for veterinarians who died during 1979 through 2015 was obtained from AVMA obituary and life insurance databases and submitted to a centralized database of US death records to obtain underlying causes of death. Decedent data that met records-matching criteria were imported into a software program for calculation of PMRs for suicide stratified by sex and indirectly standardized for age, race, and 5-year calendar period with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS 398 deaths resulted from suicide; 326 (82%) decedents were male, 72 (18%) were female, and most (298 [75%]) were ≤ 65 years of age. The PMRs for suicide for all veterinarian decedents (2.1 and 3.5 for males and females, respectively), those in clinical positions (2.2 and 3.4 for males and females, respectively), and those in nonclinical positions (1.8 and 5.0 for males and females, respectively) were significantly higher than for the general US population. Among female veterinarians, the percentage of deaths by suicide was stable from 2000 until the end of the study, but the number of such deaths subjectively increased with each 5-year period.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results of the study indicated that PMRs for suicide of female as well as male veterinarians were higher than for the general population. These data may help to inform stakeholders in the creation and implementation of suicide prevention strategies designed for veterinarians.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To assess proportionate mortality from all causes for male and female US veterinarians during 1979 through 2015.

SAMPLE

Death records for 11,620 veterinarians.

PROCEDURES

For this proportionate mortality ratio (PMR) study, information for veterinarians who died during 1979 through 2015 was obtained from AVMA obituary and life insurance databases and submitted to a centralized database of US death records to obtain underlying causes of death. Decedent data that met records-matching criteria were imported into a software program for calculation of PMRs for all causes stratified by sex and indirectly standardized for age, race, and 5-year calendar period with 95% CIs.

RESULTS

11,620 decedents consisted of 11,049 (95%) males and 571 (5%) females with a median age at death of 77 years. Proportionate mortality for all veterinarian decedents was higher than expected for melanoma (PMRs, 2.1 and 2.2 for males and females, respectively), suicide (PMRs, 2.1 and 3.5 for males and females, respectively), and transportation injuries (PMRs, 1.7 and 1.6 for males and females, respectively). Proportionate mortality for all decedents was lower than expected for respiratory cancers (PMRs, 0.6 and 0.5 for males and females, respectively), diabetes mellitus (PMRs, 0.7 and 0.4 for males and females, respectively), heart disease (PMRs, 0.9 and 0.6 for males and females, respectively), and respiratory disorders (PMRs, 0.7 and 0.6 for males and females, respectively).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated proportionate mortality from malignant melanoma, transportation injuries, and suicide for male and female veterinarians was higher than the general population. These data may help stakeholders improve veterinarian workplace safety and health guidelines.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association