There used to be an old saying: “Suffer the children” that people would say as they bandied about, ensuring that children were taken care of. We all look at this, and our heart swells with pride: a person so selfless, they suffer for the sake of children’s welfare. In a perfect world, we’d all suffer the children; but then again, this isn’t a perfect world. Some are more compassionate than others.
It kind of goes with other adages: “Love others as I love you”, and “All creatures, great and small”. They sound so common, nobody ever thinks about it, or gives a second thought, especially when it comes to animal lovers and their caregivers.
Some people may find it impossible to believe, but caregivers bare the emotional brunt of those that are suffering, even when it comes to animals. Believe it or not, animals bring more emotion to people than would be believed. It may be because they can’t emote like people, that abandoned or sickly animals have to be put down, and it’s a person that has to do it.
Believe it or not, animal care workers have a suicide rate that is 5.3 in 1 million people. That’s on par with firefighters and police officers, though it’s not talked about as much. You see, the average suicide rate amongst other American workers: 1.5 in a million.
It actually began to be diagnosed when renowned vet and author Dr. Sophia Yin committed suicide in 2014. It was described as “Secondary Stress Disorder” (STSD, which has been found to be common amongst animal care workers, especially the ones that have to deal in euthanasia.
Why nobody talks about it? Because the reality is grim: most people can’t believe that there would be a suicide rate when it relates to the creatures that have no voices of their own. In fact, it’s so prevalent that in 2009, the Executive Director of the Delco SPCA decided to make it a no-kill shelter, due to the fact that 2325 animals were euthanized while only 1845 were adopted.
While this seems inconsequential to some, the reality is that many people that work in this field develop compassion fatigue. The suffering of animals at the hands of people that should know better is astonishing. And for them, the care of some of our smallest creatures is as important as the care of our children and other people.
And if you know anybody that may be suicidal, or having suicidal thoughts, they should call the 24/7 National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK for counselling. Workers at animal shelters are encouraged to call, as well as other law enforcement agencies. It is no wonder, seeing as they see the worst of humanity everyday. Compassion fatigue is not a crime, or a disease. It is an affliction that comes with the realization of what the worst nature of people will do.