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Suicide Prevention Funding Increase Sought In Oklahoma

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Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Mental health officials in Oklahoma say the number of people calling the state's suicide hotline during the first three months of the year was up 65 percent -- leading them to ask for an additional $130 million for suicide prevention programs.

But at least one state lawmaker says the chances of that happening are not good.

The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services' budget has been cut by $25 million in the past 18 months because of budget shortfalls and currently has a $183 million budget.

Department Commissioner Terri White told The Norman Transcript that the agency has cut both staff and the number of psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment beds.

Republican Rep. George Faught says the state faces a budget gap of about $600 million and funding increases are unlikely.

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