OKLAHOMA CITY – For the past decade, suicide rates for Oklahoma youth have been above the national average. According to a report issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the state ranked 10th highest in the nation for youth suicide rates from 2012 to 2016. On the average, two Oklahomans ages 10-24 die by suicide every week. Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd hopes events like September’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month can help shine a spotlight on suicide and reduce the stigma that may prevent Oklahomans from seeking the help they need.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Oklahomans ages 10 to 24,” said Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “We also know the overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35 percent since 1999, and the COVID-19 pandemic is causing further mental health problems throughout the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that during 2020, mental health-related emergency department visits for youths 12-17 years increased 31 percent compared to 2019. The stigma surrounding suicide and mental health may keep some people from getting the help they need. Raising awareness through events like National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, can help reduce that stigma and save lives.”
Floyd said Senate Bill 21, which she and Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, authored together, will help stem the increase in youth suicides in the state. The measure, which was passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law during the 2021 session, makes it mandatory for teachers and staff to undergo suicide awareness and prevention training once every two years. Floyd and Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, have also requested an interim study on youth suicide that will be held at the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 1:10 p.m. in room 535. A livestream will be available at www.oksenate.gov.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800 273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
Contact: Democratic Leader Kay Floyd
Capitol: (405) 521-5610
Every 10 years, the Oklahoma Legislature is constitutionally required to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries using the latest U.S. Census data. For more information about the Oklahoma Senate's redistricting process, visit www.oksenate.gov, or submit your redistricting questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.