OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma Suicides Climb to Highest Point since 2006

October 15, 2021

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Oklahoma

Oklahoma Watch

Recent data show the number of suicide deaths in Oklahoma increased last year. The number in 2020 was 10% higher than in 2019, and 62% higher than in 2006. According to experts, factors associated with the increase may include pandemic-related stressors, limited access to health care in rural areas, gun ownership, and trauma among youth. Suicide rates have increased among some of the state’s minority populations, which may be linked to discrimination and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on those groups. Despite these challenges, there is hope, said SPRC Program Manager Shelby Rowe. The state’s department of education has invested pandemic relief funds in increasing mental health supports in schools, and all school staff are now required to take suicide prevention training. A new state law mandates insurance companies reimburse equitably for telehealth and in-person services, which could help expand access to mental health care. The state is also partnering with a nonprofit to reduce veteran suicide through firearms safety education.

Spark Extra! Learn more about suicide prevention in Oklahoma.