September has been designated Suicide Prevention Month. In observance of that designation, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), a nationally recognized thought-leader and innovator in the veterinary industry providing training, education, and resources to its 4,000 practice management members, is pleased to announced the release of a new publication, After a Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces. The tool is endorsed by the VHMA, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and the Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE).
Suicide in the veterinary industry
Studies show that suicides among those in the veterinary field are rising. Debt, compassion fatigue, grueling schedules, and burnout have been identified as contributing factors. More recently, the added stressors created by the global pandemic are anticipated to further tax how employees cope. Prevention measures including encouraging people to seek mental health care and reducing access to lethal means can help save lives and reduce suicide risk.
Managers must be prepared to address the suicide of an employee, but also the impact of that suicide on staff. The suicide death of an employee is one of the most difficult situations a manager will ever confront, it must be addressed and cannot be concealed. Following a death by suicide, those in the workplace must be helped to process the event and grieve. Evidence suggests that providing crisis intervention and other forms of support following a suicide can stabilize a community, prevent -contagion, and foster a return to normalcy.
About After a Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in partnership with VHMA, AVMA, NAVTA, and VMAE, developed a valuable resource for managers faced with grieving employees, clients, and industry partners. It also offers strategies managers can employ to respond to media attention following the tragedy, as well as ways to respond to community requests for answers. After A Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces is indispensable for today’s times.
According to VHMA President Michelle Gonzales-Bryant, “The guide is a valuable resource for all managers. It is comprehensive and empathetic and offers step-by-step guidance for supporting and comforting employees in the aftermath of the unthinkable. We are proud to have collaborated on the production of this guide. Sadly, I have had to deal with several employee suicides, and I know first-hand the deep and disturbing impact a suicide has on survivors, including coworkers. The guide is an excellent resource for understanding how to best support and comfort survivors.”
To download the guide, go to https://members.vhma.org/store/viewproduct.aspx?id=17107680
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
About the partners
The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) is a nationally recognized thought-leader and innovator in providing training, education, and resources to more than 4,000 members and a trusted resource that the veterinary sector relies on for industry insights, research, and advocacy to assure performance at the highest levels. VHMA's core purpose is to advance and support veterinary practice management professionals by developing professional competence, supporting and encouraging standards through the industry's highest-level certification program, the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM), and providing individuals with a network for professional connection and support. Learn more
Established in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to act against this leading cause of death. AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. Visit afsp.org for more information.
The American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) vision is to be the trusted leader in protecting, promoting, and advancing a strong, unified veterinary profession that meets the needs of society. Its mission is to advocate for members and advance the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health. Information is available at avma.org.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) was formed in 1981 with the goal of allowing veterinary technicians to give input on national issues involving the veterinary profession. Since then, NAVTA has grown and achieved many successes including the declaration of National Veterinary Technician Week, the formation of the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties, the development of a scholarship program and much more. For more information go to navta.net.
The mission of the Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE) is to help VMA executives create thriving organizations and provide effective leadership within the veterinary profession. For more information, visit vmae.org.