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Oklahoma suicides are up 38 percent. This is a public health crisis.

This past week offered several reminders that we are facing a growing mental health problem that isn’t going away.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released Thursday, shows that suicides are up 30 percent nationwide since 1999. Oklahoma is exceeding the national trend, with suicides increasing by 38 percent. 

Events of the past week have shown that mental illness does not discriminate. Even the rich and famous — people who outwardly have all the reason in the world to be happy — are not immune. Fashion designer Kate Spade and chef/television personality Anthony Bourdain both made the tragic and irreversible decision to end their own lives this past week.

So, what has changed in the past two decades to get us to this point?

Some blame technology, arguing that it is advancing at a much more rapid pace than the human brain can adapt. From communicating with friends and family, to shopping, to consuming news and information, technology has definitely changed the way we behave. 

We have come a long way in talking openly about mental health issues, but we still have a way to go. Seeking professional help for issues such as depression and addiction needs to be as common as going to the doctor to be treated for a physical ailment.  

Leaving a mental health issue unaddressed can kill you instantly.

If you are dealing with a mental health problem, please contact a friend, family member or counselor. Regardless of what you are going through, you don’t have to go through it alone.

If you are thinking about taking your own life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

You matter. 

— The Lawton Constitution

The Lawton Constitution

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