Veterinarians are the people we count on when our pets are sick, but there's a troubling epidemic spreading across the country: An alarming number of veterinarians are taking their own lives — and it's not clear why.
"We're supposed to be strong," Dr. Philippa Pavia told Inside Edition. "We're the ones in white coats. We're the ones fixing things. We're not supposed to be the ones who need fixing."
Dr. Timnah Lee said too many vets are routinely threatened with cyberbullying.
"[They say,] 'We're going to write bad reviews. ... I'm going to tell everybody what a bad doctor you are,'" Lee told Inside Edition.
The doctors also say they are unfairly targeted for billing people after their pet has died.
"Suddenly we're bad people because we have to charge for our services," Pavia said.
Adding to the pressure? A frantic work schedule.
"I can remember calling her at lunch time and she'd tell me I'm taking a nap in my car," Julie Butner told Inside Edition of her sister Jesse, a vet who took her own life last year.
"The difference is as a veterinarian you're making a decision to put the animal down," Butner added, saying it took a toll on her sister. "A medical doctor doesn't have to do that."
Pavia and Lee agreed that it can be draining day in and day out.
"There's no vet out there who can do that without taking some of that pain on for themselves," said Pavia.
"We get together and we talk about things because ... sometimes only another veterinarian could understand," added Lee.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, help can be found at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free and anonymous crisis support in the U.S. from the Crisis Text Line.