Serving to veterinary employees members deal with suicide

A new resource is available that veterinarians can use to deal with the aftermath of an employee’s suicide.

“After a Suicide: A Guide to Veterinary Workplaces,” published September during National Suicide Prevention Month, is a work by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and AVMA in collaboration with the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Veterinary Hospital Managers Association and the Veterinary Medical Association Executives.

“The support of veterinarians after a colleague’s suicide is critical. Since suicidal loss survivors can develop significant grief and even physical and mental health problems if not properly supported, follow-up care is a critical step and is indeed part of suicide prevention, ”said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP’s Chief Medical Officer, in a press release. “Dealing properly with the aftermath of suicide in a veterinary office can pave the way for a work culture that is mental health wise.”

Developed by experts in veterinary medicine and suicide prevention, as well as suicide loss survivors in the veterinary community, the guide includes the following:

  • Best Practices for How Managers and Employees Respond in the Workplace Immediately After Suicide.
  • Guide to assisting the workplace community with short and long term grief and coping.
  • Tips for working with the media and community partners.
  • Important information to help you remind employees safely and identify and support members of the community who may be at risk and reduce the risk of suicide infection.

“The guide will ensure that our members and their teams receive the critical support they need in the event of a colleague’s suicidal death and will help prevent future suicidal deaths,” said AVMA President Dr. Douglas Kratt in the press release.

VHMA president Michelle Gonzales-Bryant says managers who have had to support and comfort employees after such a tragedy know the importance of providing grief counseling and other employee support measures. “‘After a Suicide: A Guide to Veterinary Workplaces’ is a valuable management resource and much-needed guide as it provides comprehensive, empathetic, and step-by-step answers to these devastating and heartbreaking events,” said Gonzales-Bryant.

Last year, AFSP, AVMA, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges published “After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Colleges of Veterinary Medicine”.