Kentucky develops efforts to address farm crisis situations

Farmers have the highest suicide rates of all major industry and occupational groups, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Theyfurther report that farm-workersuicide rates(ages 16-64) jumped 34% from 2000 to 2016, from 12.9 suicides to 17.3 per 100,000 workers. Suicides among farmers are 1.5 times higher than the national average and are probably higher than what is reported because some farm suicides may be masked as farm-related accidents. Researchers report most farmers live in rural areas far from health professionals that can address isolation, aging and chronic medical and/or mental health concerns. The University of KentuckyCooperative Extension Service partnered with the University of Kentucky College of Nursing to address this need and build capacity to support rural mental health in Kentucky and as part of a 15-state southern region project. This Cooperative Extension/College of Nursing partnership secured more than $1.45 million to support programming efforts, including the adaption of The Farm Dinner Theater program to specifically address farm crisis situations including suicide awareness. Additionally, Kentucky greatly increased their capacity to offer QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Gatekeeper Certification and the Mental Health First Aid Program. Funders supporting programming efforts in this area include the Kentucky Beef Council, Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition and the USDA. Extension collaborations benefit residents across the state and region through enhanced resources that save lives.

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