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Depression, suicidal ideation and suicide risk in German veterinarians compared with the general German population
  1. Kathrin Angelika Schwerdtfeger1,
  2. Mahtab Bahramsoltani1,
  3. Lena Spangenberg2,
  4. Nina Hallensleben2 and
  5. Heide Glaesmer2
  1. 1 Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Universität Leipzig Medizinische Fakultät, Leipzig, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Kathrin Angelika Schwerdtfeger; SchwerdtfegerK{at}


Background Higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide risk have been reported for veterinarians in various studies worldwide. This study investigates whether this is also true for German veterinarians.

Methods A total of 3.118 veterinarians (78.8 per cent female, mean age 41.3 years) between 22 and 69 years were included and compared with two general population samples of the same age range using the Suicide Behaviours Questionnaire-Revised and Patient Health Questionnaire.

Results Current suicidal ideation was found in 19.2 per cent of veterinarians, compared with only 5.7 per cent in the general population. 32.11 per cent of veterinarians were classified with increased suicide risk, compared with 6.62 per cent in the general population. 27.78 per cent of veterinarians screened positive for depression, compared with 3.99 per cent of the general population.

Conclusion The study shows that veterinarians have an increased risk of depression and suicidal ideation and suicide risk compared with the general population in Germany. Similar to previous findings, the level of depression was higher among veterinarians than in the general population. However, this study does not explore causes for higher rates in depression, suicide risk and suicidal ideation. Since other studies strongly suggest specific risk factors lead to higher suicide risk and consequently elevated numbers of completed suicides, future research should focus on identifying and preventing causes.

  • suicide
  • veterinarians
  • depression
  • Germany

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The ethical review board of the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig approved the study protocol. The study was also reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of the German Psychological Association.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Please contact Professor Dr Heide Glaesmer, University of Leipzig.

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