The Mental Health Association held a suicide prevention training on Monday.
Fifty-five people showed up, which is about three times more than usually come to these training sessions.
One woman says she lost her mom to suicide 15 years ago, but believes she did all she could to save her.
“My mom committed suicide on May 11, 2003. On my birthday,” said Michelle Sutton. “It happened so long ago, but I start talking about it and I still get emotional.”
Sutton says her mom suffered from mental health problems for years, but she never dreamed her mom would take her own life.
“We knew that she was sick and we knew that she was struggling a log, but, you know, she’d been struggling her whole life,” she said.
It was Sutton’s 33rd birthday when she got the call.
“My mom hung herself on the front door of our house with a dog leash,” Sutton said. “The person who found her called me, and then I had to tell my brother and sister.”
Now, Sutton is combating the stigma that suicide is selfish.
“People with mental illness aren’t selfish, they’re sick,” she declared.
It’s a stigma the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma battles all the time.
In light of two recent high-profile suicides, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, the group held prevention training on Monday.
Julie Summers, the Director of Outreach for the Mental Health Association, says the training session “teaches people how ask the question …‘are you thinking about suicide?’ and then how to respond once somebody answers the question.”
CDC reports say the suicide rate has increased by 37 percent in Oklahoma since 1999, which is why Summers says training like this is so important.
“We know that, typically, people who are feeling suicidal feel relief when they get the opportunity to talk about it,” said Summers.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call 1-800-273-8255. That number is answered 24/7.
Calls to that hotline are up 25 percent in the past week.