Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

Department

Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sarah Nielsen

Abstract

Suicide is death caused by self-directed, injurious behavior with the intent to die (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2019). This is a concerning public health issue, as it is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (U.S.) (Hedegaard, Curtin, & Warner, 2018). Suicide rates vary between different populations, with the occupational group of Farming, Fishing, and Forestry having a disproportionately higher suicide rate than the national average (Jared, 2019; Peterson et al., 2018). Farmers and ranchers in rural regions of the U.S. are not receiving appropriate mental health services due to a shortage of health care providers (National Advisory Committee of Rural Health and Human Resources [NACRHHS], 2017). Despite the need for more health care providers to address this issue, the role of occupational therapy practitioners in suicide prevention and intervention is not clearly defined (Novalis, 2017).

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Due to the uncertainty of occupational therapy’s role in suicide prevention, there is a need to describe how the profession can contribute to this prevalent issue. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness of farmer and rancher suicide and occupational therapy’s role in suicide prevention and intervention. A literature review was conducted to understand the precursors of farmer and rancher suicide, best practices in suicide prevention, and the skill set needed for occupational therapy practitioners to address suicide prevention and intervention. The information gathered from the literature

review and key concepts from the Ecology of Human Performance Model (Dunn, 2017; Dunn, Brown, & McGuigan, 1994) guided the development of the products.

The final products include four tables and two articles submitted for publication. Tables one and two include information on farmers and ranchers. The first table addresses the skills needed for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming, promote positive mental health, and prevent suicide-related behaviors. The second table identifies multiple strategies and dissemination methods to promote suicide prevention practices within this population. Tables three and four describe occupational therapy practitioners in suicide prevention and intervention. The first table addresses the skills needed for practitioners to screen for suicide. The second table describes strategies and dissemination methods to establish the role of practitioners in working with individuals at risk of suicide. These tables guided the development of two articles to raise awareness of suicide among farmers, ranchers, and occupational therapy practitioners.

Although raising awareness of suicide prevention and intervention is the purpose of this project, there are limitations. One limitation is that the dissemination of the products is unknown. Another limitation is that the transferability of suicide prevention and intervention to other allied health professionals is limited. These products help reduce the gap between occupational therapy practitioners providing suicide prevention services and individuals at risk of suicide. It is hoped that these products are utilized to promote suicide prevention in the occupational therapy profession, along with farmers and ranchers in the future.

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