Sophie Putland battled with depression and, according to a friend, was in a state of despair when a furious client filed a series of complaints about her work at Swan Street Vet in the inner eastern suburb of Richmond.
The 33-year-old struggled with her mental health during Covid lockdowns – at one point she wrote on Instagram that her sanity was ‘hanging by a thread’ – but a friend confirmed on Tuesday that a campaign of abuse pushed her over the edge.
Last week, she ended her life.
In a heartbreaking Facebook post, the friend described the horrific abuse vets receive from disgruntled clients on a daily basis.
Sophie Putland (pictured) took her own life last week after endless complaints by a furious client
Sophie Putland (pictured) was also a fitness model who entered bodybuilding competitions
‘When we are fighting to save your pet’s life… don’t abuse us. Don’t make comments like we are in this for the money. Don’t say that we could have done better. Don’t yell at us. Don’t take your frustrations out on us. Don’t be a horrible person,’ she wrote.
‘You could push someone over the edge. You do not know what it is like to lose a patient you tried to save, or to save a patient then get abused about how much it will cost the owner.
‘Sophie ended her life because of this. Because someone chose to abuse her.’
According to the Australian Veterinary Association, vets have one of the highest rates of suicide at about four-times the national average – or around one suicide every 12 weeks in Australia.
The alarming statistic is twice as high as their counterparts in human medicine.
In an Instagram post in 2020, Sophie Putland (pictured) said she was struggling during Covid lockdowns
Sophie used exercise to try and stay on top of her mental health and placed in fitness competitions
Claire MacRae, who is also a vet and was friends with Sophie, told Daily Mail Australia that clients often complain to the Veterinary Surgeons Board when they are unhappy with the service provided.
The majority of complaints lodged are baseless and thrown out, but the board is required to investigate each case – even if it was put forward by an irrational and angry client looking for someone to blame over the death of their pet.
‘Having a board complaint is incredibly stressful, and so easy for a disgruntled client to lodge,’ Dr MacRae said.
‘It can take years for the vet to receive the decision on their case, and in the meantime they have this threat to their livelihood hanging over their head – boards have the power to deregister vets temporarily or permanently, or to apply other sanctions.
‘Sophie had been dealing with a particularly vindictive complainant, and this certainly would have taken a toll on her mental health.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Vetboard Victoria for comment.
Family and friends flocked to social media to pay tribute to Sophie Putland, who died last week
Sophie worked as a vet in South Australia, before she moved to Melbourne two years ago
Sophie was open about her mental health struggles during Covid lockdowns in 2020
Sophie was open about her mental health struggles during the state’s second wave of Covid in August last year – when citizens were banned from leaving their homes for 111 days.
She wrote on Instagram that she was ‘holding on to sanity by a thread’ and thanked her local gym for providing fitness equipment to use during restrictions – without which ‘I would certainly be at the very bottom of a pit of depression’.
‘2020 you are a big pile of dog turds,’ she added.
Melburnians have now endured more than 200 days of lockdown since the start of the pandemic, with 221 new Covid cases recorded on Wednesday.
The vet, who was originally from South Australia, used exercise to help fight her depression and competed in a range of bodybuilding and fitness competitions.
In 2017, she auditioned for a spot starring alongside celebrity doctor Chris Brown in Bondi Vet.
‘Fitness is a big passion of mine,’ she said in her audition video.
‘I believe physical and mental health are interrelated and it is so, so important to make these a priority in your life, especially as a vet as it can be quite a stressful job.’
Sophie auditioned to star alongside celebrity doctor Chris Brown on Bondi Vet. Pictured: Sophie in her audition video
In the days after her death, friends and family flocked to social media to pay tribute
Swan Street Vet in Richmond, in Melbourne’s south-east, said in a statement (pictured) that Sophie’s passing was sudden and unexpected
In the days after her death, friends and family flocked to social media to pay tribute.
Her cousin, Hugh Atkinson, said he was particularly proud of Sophie’s accomplishments as a vet, and for being so open about her mental health struggles.
‘We didn’t know the magnitude of your despair,’ he wrote.
‘In the end, you just wanted the pain to be over… and I understand that.’
Her younger brother, Olly Putland, uploaded a photo on Facebook of the two of them together and wrote, ‘my dear sister. I miss you so much! RIP.’
A friend commented: ‘Our hearts are shattered on the loss of Sophie. Sending you lots of love and hugs to share with you at this sad time.
‘Sleeping peacefully forever. RIP beautiful Sophie.’
A colleague also said Sophie was a ‘fun, caring, genuine, a great vet but more importantly, a great human’.
For 24/7 confidential support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
Source: Daily Mail