Experience with Euthanasia is Associated with Fearlessness about Death in Veterinary Students



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 44, Issue 1, 111, Article first published online: 17 October 2013

  • This research was supported by an Auburn University intramural grant. We extend special thanks to Dr. Witte's undergraduate research assistant, Roberta Leigh Seeman, for her assistance in administering participant payments. We additionally would like to thank focus group participants for providing invaluable input and feedback for the development of our study measures.

Address correspondence to Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, 226 Thach Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849-5214; E-mail: tracy.witte@auburn.edu


Veterinarians have an increased risk for suicide compared with the general population, yet there is little consensus regarding why this might be. We hypothesized that veterinarians become relatively fearless about death due to their repeated exposure to euthanasia. Accordingly, we predicted that there would be a positive relationship between experience with euthanasia and fearlessness about death, due to emotional habituation to the process of euthanasia. In a sample of 130 veterinary students, results conformed to expectation and indicated that the relationship with fearlessness about death was specific to euthanasia and did not generalize to experience with surgery or necropsy.