Regina Lizik of BarkPost has written a compelling article about compassion fatigue, the emotional exhaustion caused by the stress of caring for traumatized or suffering animals or people. In her article, she describes the devastating effect that compassion fatigue, or secondary-traumatic stress disorder, can have on people. Most notably, the suicide of Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinary behaviorist and author. From her post:
In September of 2014, 48-year-old veterinary behaviorist and best-selling author Dr. Sophia Yin committed suicide. Dr. Yin was a trailblazer in the dog training community. She wrote books, created instructional videos, and developed tools for positive reinforcement training.
In the Huffington Post, Anna Jane Grossman writes that it is impossible to understate Dr. Yin’s contribution to the world.
It is, perhaps, this overwhelming dedication to animals that led her to take her own life. According to those closest to her, Dr. Yin likely suffered from compassion fatigue.
The first ever mental health survey for veterinarians revealed that one in six of them have contemplated suicide. A recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that animal rescue workers have a suicide rate of 5.3 in 1 million workers. This is the highest suicide rate among American workers; a rate shared only by firefighters and police officers. The national average suicide average for American workers is 1.5 per 1 million.
As a member of the animal rescue community, Zooh Corner has a long history of caring for animals that have suffered due to neglect, abuse, and abandonment. We do our best to turn things around for those that we can rescue, with the knowledge that our limited resources can only get us so far. Despite our best efforts, some rescue stories cannot end happily, and it can be very emotional for everyone.
If you have felt the stress of having to care for an ailing loved one, please remember that you are not alone. Above all else, your efforts make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of those you care for.