Occupational Therapy and Veteran Suicide: A Call to Action

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Abstract

Suicide in the U.S. military veteran population is an epidemic with a wide-ranging impact on individuals, families, and society. Death by suicide is preventable. The purpose of this article is to ignite a professional discussion about veteran suicide, a serious mental health issue that is underrepresented in the occupational therapy research literature. Occupational therapy practitioners respond to the changing needs of populations and promote preventive measures to improve health. Actively exploring occupational therapy’s role in suicide prevention is a professional responsibility aligned with tenets of the Centennial Vision and Vision 2025. Applying the concept of the scholarship of integration, the authors present a case for the inclusion of suicide prevention training as a professional competency and explore opportunities to address suicide risk through the use of evidence-based interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder, combat stress, and depression. Professional implications include the need to advance professional knowledge through education, advocacy, and intervention research targeting the veteran population.

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