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Military or civilian, curbing suicide must continue as a priority

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: September 27, 2012

That's an approach that needs to be embraced not just in the military, but among the general population. For far too long, those in need of mental health services have been viewed with a crooked brow by family, friends and coworkers. Indeed suicide itself continues to have a powerful stigma attached — just look at how seldom families choose in obituaries to note that their loved one died by suicide.

Yet according to HeartLine, which offers crisis services in Oklahoma, one person commits suicide every 14 minutes in the United States. The suicide rate for those in the 15-24 age group has more than doubled since the mid-1950s. In Oklahoma, suicide is the No. 2 cause of death among those ages 10 to 24.

The wreckage left behind after a suicide can be devastating. Stillwater will be dealing with that after the death of a middle school student Wednesday. In the eastern Oklahoma town of Stigler on Friday night, football coach Chris Risenhoover had the grim job of informing his players that a popular teammate had been found dead after not showing up for the game. “Basically the entire team was torn in half,” is how Risenhoover described the reaction. “There is a lot of pain there.”

Easing that pain requires the community's help. Preventing others from experiencing it does, too. As we've written before, all Oklahomans should be aware of warning signs and steer friends and neighbors to available resources. One is HeartLine's 2-1-1 hot line. Another is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-8255.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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