Nicole McArthur, DVM
I started a little FB group on October 1, 2014 after the suicide of renown veterinarian Dr. Sophia Yin. Since that time, our secret group has grown steadily by word of mouth. I created it as a place where veterinarians could come and talk about all of the good, the bad and the ugly that we face in our daily lives. A place where we can celebrate victories and vent frustrations to a group who understands without needing a translation.
This little group is called Not One More Vet, or NOMV. Our goal is a lofty one in that we want not one more vet lost to suicide. I would like to say that we have succeeded, but we have lost many colleagues since Sophia.
There are currently more than 15,000 veterinarians who have joined NOMV and we have nearly a quarter of a million engagements per month. That means veterinarians are posting, our colleagues are responding, creating a community where we can feel supported, understood and most importantly, not alone.
NOMV is not a perfect place as we are all human. As with any community, there are arguments and there are hurt feelings. The admins and moderators of NOMV have heard some awful insults and accusations as to the merits of this page. We take most with a grain of salt as we realize that most come from a place of hurt. But there is one insult that I refuse to accept: NOMV doesn't save lives. I would argue quite the opposite.
There have been numerous times that NOMV admins have been alerted to the possibility that a member is suicidal. We make attempts to contact the individual and see what is going on... triage, if you will. Sometimes, the NOMVer needs a sympathetic ear and the simple act of reaching out is enough. Other times, it is a code red situation and we must make decisions quickly. It happened recently when Carrie, Melanie and I happened to be sharing a room at WVC. When a situation like this occurs, we are usually working on it alone (we live all across the US). This is the first time we could act as a team and we were able to work together to gather information so that we could call police for a welfare check.
Most of the time, we don't know where the member lives, much less where they are located at that moment in time. Melanie was able to determine an approximate location and contacted the local police department. All the while, Carrie was communicating with our concerned NOMVer, who was understandably shaken.
We sat and waited. And talked about the next step, and the next. Any time we call the police, we know that our trust with that individual might be broken. But as Carrie likes to say "better mad than dead". So we prepared ourselves for the inevitable anger. We also prepared ourselves for the very real fact that our colleague may already be dead.
Melanie's phone rang and we were given the good news that our colleague was alive, albeit angry. And we were okay with that. Better mad than dead.
When the police assured us that the NOMVer was safe, we breathed a sigh of relief. Melanie and I gave each other a hug. And we looked over at Carrie, who had fallen asleep at her keyboard.
When I gently pulled the laptop from her lap, her fingers began typing. I swear this woman never, ever stops.
The NOMV admins are 100% committed to our goal of not one more vet lost to suicide. We have all completed QPR training - Question, Persuade, Refer. Our goal is not to fix your underlying problem, but to get you through the dark moments so that you can get help from a licensed mental health professional. We strongly recommend QPR Gatekeeper Training for all of our members and you can read more about it at qprinstitute.com.
The Admin Team of NOMV is a group of veterinarians dedicated to improving veterinary mental health.