Suicide levels prompt new responses in Tulsa
BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
1/08/13 at 3:14 AM
Tulsa experienced a dramatically lower number of suicides in 2012 when compared to the record set in 2011, and some officials think a new police response system might be one of the reasons for the decline.
There were 62 suicides in Tulsa in 2012, down from 89 the prior year.
Officials say it's difficult to say for sure why suicide numbers vary from year to year. But it seems likely that the aggressive new system of following up with people in distress is one of the reasons for the recent decline.
The record number of suicides in 2011 was one of the reasons that led local police and mental health officials to change how they respond to suicide attempts and other indicators of mental health problems.
Maj. Tracie Lewis, head of the Gilcrease Division and a leader in the department's mental health programs, said an officer was assigned last year to follow up on suicide attempts, in addition to other mental health activities.
She said that in December alone, police received 169 suicidal subject calls and 155 from people in distress who were taken into protective custody. Officers now follow up with those who attempted suicide in an effort to get them linked up with appropriate treatment.
While police officers are not commonly thought of as the first line of intervention when it comes to suicide, they are the ones most likely to get the first calls about such incidents.
An anticipated next step is a publicity campaign about what's known as the QPR method, which stands for question, persuade and refer - actions that could help intervene when someone is contemplating suicide.
"That's sort of the CPR concept for identifying friends or loved ones who may need help," explained Mike Brose, director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa. "Some people say, 'I just don't know what to say to them.' Well, here's what you can do. It's designed for the layperson to understand basic steps."
Tulsa is well-known for its innovative, cooperative initiatives to help people in need. These latest developments are yet more evidence of that unique community spirit.
Original Print Headline: Help is there