Several reasons have been suggested for the elevated risk of suicide experienced by those in the veterinary profession. The current study aimed to investigate possible links between veterinarians' attitudes to ‘convenience’ or non-justified animal euthanasia and attitudes towards human euthanasia and suicide. Veterinary students and graduates had a negative attitude towards convenience animal euthanasia, but their attitudes changed over time (pre-clinical studies, clinical studies and recently graduated). A greater tolerance to euthanasia was displayed in the later years of study and post qualification – primarily by males. Attitudes towards both human euthanasia and suicide, however, remained stable over time and indicated on average a neutral stance. No correlations were found between attitudes to convenience euthanasia and either human euthanasia or suicide, suggesting a tolerance to convenience euthanasia of animals does not lead to desensitisation in valuing human life and a changed attitude to human euthanasia or suicide, or vice versa. Attitudes to human euthanasia and suicide were predictably correlated, perhaps suggesting an overarching attitude towards control over human death. The results of the current study throw into question the argument that it is the changes in attitudes to animal life that affect veterinarian's attitudes to human life and contribute to the high suicide rate.
- Accepted May 3, 2012.
- British Veterinary Association