September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a opportunity to raise awareness and learn how to prevent suicide in Oklahoma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year. But suicide isn’t someone else’s problem to solve. Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Oklahoma, with 887 Oklahomans ending their own lives in 2021.
As we come together to raise awareness about suicide, the 988 Mental Health Lifeline is dedicated to shifting from stigma in our state. But we need your help! Keep reading to learn how you can help prevent suicide among your friends, family, and community.
If you are considering suicide or are in immediate crisis, call or text 988 for free, confidential help.
Fast Facts About Suicide in Oklahoma
- Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Oklahoma. (AFSP)
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds. (AFSP)
- 4.1% of adults in Oklahoma seriously considered suicide in the past year. (SAMHSA)
- 80% of suicides among youth and young adults (ages 10-24) are male. (Oklahoma Violent Death Reporting System)
- 1 in 10 Oklahoma students reported attempting suicide in the past 12 months. (Oklahoma Violent Death Reporting System)
- 62% of Oklahoma suicides are by firearm. (AFSP)
- For every completed suicide, there are approximately 25 attempts. (CDC)
- LGBTQ+ youth are almost four times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. (CDC)
- Native American and Alaskan Native communities have significantly higher rates of suicide compared to any other ethnic group. (CDC)
- High risk groups like veterans, people who live in rural areas, and LGBTQ+ identifying people have higher-than-average rates of suicide. (CDC)
How You Can Prevent Suicide
Whether it’s a post on social media, a poster on a coffee shop corkboard, or a speech at a mental health event, speaking out and sharing resources like the 988 Mental Health Lifeline could save a life. Download free 988 resources here.
Talk About Mental Health
Talking openly about suicide can help reduce stigma around getting help. Encourage open conversations about mental health, check in on your friends, family, and neighbors, be a supportive listener, and if you’re comfortable, share your own mental health story.
Make sure people you love know where to find mental health resources. Some of our favorites include the 988 Mental Health Lifeline, crisis centers, therapists, mental health providers, and local support groups. The Oklahoma Network of Care is a great resource for finding providers, programs, and more near you.
Practice Safe Firearm Storage
Death by firearm is the most common suicide method in Oklahoma. If you have firearms at home, safe storage can help prevent access by at-risk people. Store your guns unloaded and in a secure place, such as a lockbox or a gun safe.
If you or someone in your home is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it’s a good idea to temporarily remove firearms from the home until you, your family member, or your roommate is no longer in crisis.
Sign Up for a Training Program
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services offers several programs to help you become an active advocate and confidently help someone in distress.
Some of these programs include:
- Talk Saves Lives, a one-hour program that teaches warning signs to look for and ways to keep yourself and others safe from mental health issues like suicide.
- Are You OK?, a two-part online program designed to help leaders respond to suicide, mental illness, and mental health struggles in the workplace.
- Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour course that teaches how to respond to a mental health crisis and connect people with professional, peer, and self-help care.
Promote Wellness Activities
Suicide prevention doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Stress-reducing, mood-boosting activities like yoga classes, meditation, and community walks can promote whole-body well-being and foster a sense of belonging.
Help Shift From Stigma
Our voices are louder when they’re together. This National Suicide Prevention Month, 988 Oklahoma challenges you to use what you’ve learned to make a difference in your community. Check on people in your life and offer resources like 988, if needed. 988’s free posters, social media posts, outreach cards, coloring sheets, and other resources are another easy option to spread the word and start the conversation.
Be sure to share your National Suicide Prevention Month story on social media by tagging @988okla and #ShiftFromStigma.
Together, we can keep more Oklahomans alive.
About the 988 Mental Health Lifeline
988 is a direct three-digit mental health lifeline, connecting Oklahomans with trained behavioral health professionals that can get us the help we need. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, struggling with suicidal thoughts, or need to talk through depression, anxiety, and more, give us a call or text 988 any time.