Dear Christopher Cat: My cats’ veterinarian just committed suicide, and I am devastated. She seemed happy and healthy. How did this happen? Another vet told me that suicide among veterinarians is fairly common.

Christopher Responds: Unfortunately, suicide in general, and particularly among veterinarians, is all too common.

The statistics are frightening. Ten percent of the female veterinarians who died since 2000 succumbed to suicide.

Female veterinarians are 3.5 times (and male veterinarians 2.1 times) more likely to die by suicide than the general American public.

Factors contributing to the high suicide rate among veterinarians include high debt-to-income ratios, long work hours with overloaded schedules, increasing veterinary costs, management responsibilities, having to communicate bad news, client expectations and complaints, acceptance of euthanasia, access to lethal drugs, poor work-life balance, perfectionism, anxiety and depression.

To learn how to help if you suspect someone may be contemplating suicide, consult suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 800-273-8255.