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Tulsa World editorial: Tulsa leaders have recognized grim suicide rate trends

Tulsa World editorial: Tulsa leaders have recognized grim suicide rate trends

Suicide is a solvable social problem, but not without a knowledgeable, compassionate and frank attitude

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About 45,000 Americans committed suicide in 2016.

By comparison, about 17,250 murders were reported in the U.S.

It’s time to pay attention to suicide.

Two celebrities — designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain — who died by suicide in recent days highlight grim statistics and the need for action.

In the U.S., the suicide rate has increased by 30 percent since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Oklahoma, the suicide rate is substantially higher than the national average and rising fast.

Tulsa lost 103 people to suicide in 2016, also surpassing the number of homicides (82). The city reported 125 cases of suicide the previous year.

For a few years now, Tulsa has recorded among the highest rates of suicide in the nation.

The CDC reports that 54 percent of those who took their lives did not have a known mental health condition. That illustrates the complexity of suicide.

Mental health experts have stepped up.

In light of the recent high-profile suicide deaths, the Mental Health Association Oklahoma quickly organized suicide prevention training sessions across the state this week.

A multiyear, comprehensive Tulsa regional plan unveiled in March aims at bringing down the suicide rate and providing resources for people experiencing mental health needs.

As the 10-year regional plan ramps up, other resources are available including through the Oklahoma Mental Health Association Oklahoma, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or National Crisis Text Line by texting “Help” to 741741.

This year Family & Children’s Services launched an anti-suicide program with Community Oriented Psychiatric Emergency Services. You may have seen billboards and other advertising for the program, which has a youth suicide specialist bringing “question, persuade, refer” training to area schools

All of these programs are needed and welcome. In the old days, discussions of suicide were a taboo. Shame and fear kept society silent. We can see where that got us.

Suicide is a solvable social problem, but not without a knowledgeable, compassionate and frank attitude.

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