Tulsa Co. DA Calls For State Lawmakers To Address Mental Health After Stabbing Incident

Wednesday, September 28th 2022, 3:21 pm

By: News On 6


Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler challenged Oklahoma lawmakers to do more with respect to the state's mental health infrastructure after a stabbing incident involving his daughter on Tuesday.

Related Story: Tulsa County District Attorney's Daughter Arrested After Stabbing

The DA spoke in a press conference Wednesday for the first time since the stabbing and said that he and his daughter are in good condition after she reportedly stabbed him and then herself. During the press conference, Kunzweiler thanked the first responders and stated that the Wagoner County DA will be handling this case due to the conflict of interest. He then turned his attention to Oklahoma leadership asking them to respond to this incident.

"Mental illness is a terrible thing. Many families, like ours, have endured years of anxious-ridden concern for our affected loved ones," said Kunzweiler. "No one, no one wants to be mentally ill. You have heard me speak on many occasions about this state's and this country's need to address what seems to be an exploding mental health crisis among our population."

He went on to reference the 2015 murder of Oklahoma State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello by his son Christian Costello as a first public sign of the severity of mental illness in Oklahoma.

"That was seven years ago. In that time I have served on the Oklahoma Commission for Criminal Justice Reclassification. We were tasked with looking at our criminal justice system and making recommendations to our state elected leaders. As part of that process, we looked once again at the paucity of funding and resources to address the treatment needs of our citizens. It has been crickets, since the death of Labor Commissioner Costello. Crickets."

Related Story: Oklahoma Leaders In Shock Following Stabbing Death Of State Labor Commissioner

Kunzweiler said that the elected leaders of the state legislature need to make mental health funding a priority.

"All you [lawmakers] have to do, is take a little personal time. I don't mean a little personal time in a committee meeting," said Kunzweiler. "I mean you, the legislator, take that personal time and I want you to talk with a psychologist, I want you to talk to a psychiatrist, I want you to talk with an emergency room doctor. I want you to talk with a patrol officer I want you to talk with a firefighter, I want you to talk with an EMSA worker, I want you to talk with a COPE specialist, I want you to talk with the Department of Mental Health Case Management. You should talk with a prosecutor, you should talk with a defense attorney, you should talk with a judge. You need to talk with court-involved treatment specialists. You should talk with the parents and siblings of these affected citizens. Ask them what are the issues that these people see. Ask them what solutions they would recommend."

Kunzweiler closed by saying that in his opinion Oklahoma was in better shape in regards to mental health when he began as a prosecutor in 1989.


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