Tag: mental illness

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Oct 6, 2014

By Kayley Saunders

Suicide Prevention: Then and Now


At HeartLine, we know that sometimes you have to change your perspective in order to understand where another person is coming from. Well, this week, we’re practicing exactly that! A need for a change in perspective has resulted in our top two executives switching offices. Anyone who has had a big move knows that there are always fun treasures to be found when packing and unpacking, but this move brought something we didn’t expect.

We found a copy of The Saturday Evening Post Magazine. The Post has been a chronicler of American history for 300 years, but this particular issue was dated June 17, 1967 and I can only assume we kept it because of a cover story titled “why children commit suicide.”

In the midst of all the transitions HeartLine has gone through and the current development of our newest student-led initiative “Time to Talk,” we thought it might be a a good laugh to see the way the misinformed scientists and psychologists of the 1960’s thought to handle the issue of youth suicide, something that is still a prescient issue today.

This article, written by Max Gunther, has shaken me not because it’s so bad, but because the words printed 47 years ago are just as true now as they were that year. That year, coincidentally, is the year this employee’s parents were born.

In 1967, they measured the rate of suicide completions as a way of gauging the problem. “Completion” is the term we in the field use to refer to a death by suicide. Gunther discusses that the issue with this measure is the lack of accurate reporting and the fact that the rate of attempts is so much higher than the rate of completions. Even higher than the rate of attempts (we know now) is the rate of those experiencing suicidal thoughts or making suicidal plans. To help this, Gunther goes on to give common warning signs. He mentions triggering events, isolation, overwhelming and permanent sense of failure… At one point, he even says “All they need, most of them, is one friendly voice saying, ‘Don’t’- and they won’t.”[1]

All of these are common themes for those who work in the field of suicide prevention. We may know more now than they did then, but it appears we have been preaching much of the same information for decades.

I’m shaken because the field of suicide prevention, with all our progression and all our research, is still struggling for relevancy, still fighting myths and misconceptions fueled by a stigma that won’t fade.

Gunther warns that youth suicide rates had doubled in the last ten years. Well in the last forty, they’ve done more than that. Suicide is now the number two killer of adolescents aged 15-24 in Oklahoma or US. In 2011, the most recent year for which we have data, 4,822 youth, ages 15-24, died by suicide.[2]

From our own work in schools, we know that almost 30% of students report that they or their friends have experienced suicidal thoughts. This is a problem because, even now, with all the resources available, suicide is still largely stigmatized, largely underreported, and one of the most misunderstood and misconceived mental health topics.

It’s timely that we have come across this article now because our newest initiative serves to address these exact problems. Time to Talk’s entire mission is geared at bringing the issue of suicide into the public discourse. Our hope is that by normalizing the discussion of mental health, we can eliminate the barrier that stigma has put between help and those who need it most.

It’s time to turn the tides so that, in another 50 years, we can say that things have changed for the better. That’s why HeartLine, with both helplines and outreach services, is working diligently to provide Oklahoman’s with help, hope, and information 24/7.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7. Lifeline Crisis Chat is also available Monday – Friday 4p.m. to 12 a.m. at www.heartlineoklahoma.org

[1] Saturday Evening Post;6/17/1967, Vol. 240 Issue 12, p86

[2] American Association of Suicidology 2011 Youth Suicidal Behavior

This blog is brought to you by Kayley Saunders, School Based Prevention Coordinator.

Apr 30, 2014

By HeartLine Administrator

Suicide Prevention: There’s an App for That!



It seems like there’s an app for everything these days. Many of us rely on our apps to give us easy access to information such as weather, maps, news, email, music, and social media. Smartphones have surged in popularity in recent years- a recent study found that about two thirds of American cell phone users now own smartphones. For smartphone users, mobile applications have become ingrained in our daily lives because of their ease of access, convenience, and specialized functionality. Now there’s also an app for Oklahomans to get help for suicide.


HeartLine’s new suicide prevention phone application, HELP Prevent Suicide by Staplegun, is available through a free download on Android and iPhone devices. The application provides common warning signs of suicide, how to help a person at risk of suicide, helpful links, and a list of crisis centers throughout the state of Oklahoma. Additionally, it provides a way to easily and quickly call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or access HeartLine’s chat service within the app.















We urge you to take a moment and download our new app. When you, a friend, or loved one are in crisis, a shortcut to the right help can make a huge difference in the outcome. Learn easy steps to help prevent suicide in your community right now. Use the QR code shown above or search for the app for Androids or iPhones.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7. Lifeline Crisis Chat is also available Monday – Friday 4p.m. to 12 a.m. at www.heartlineoklahoma.org

This blog is brought to you by Rachel Yates, Director of Suicide Prevention.


Nov 18, 2013

By HeartLine Administrator

International Survivors of Suicide Day 2013

Every day, someone in Oklahoma dies by suicide, leaving friends and family behind to try to make sense of a tragic loss. In Oklahoma, suicide is also the 2nd leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. Losing someone you know to suicidal acts can bring a kaleidoscope of emotions and reactions. Surviving the loss of someone to suicide is not an easy experience. The questions you ask, the way you mourn, and the thoughts you process are all filtered through a very unique kind of lens. You are not alone; help, hope, and resources are available.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting an event that offers a safe and healing environment for the loved ones affected by suicide. Every year, survivors of suicide loss gather together in locations around the world to feel a sense of community, to promote healing, and to connect with others who have had similar experiences ( https://www.afsp.org/survivorday ). This year International Survivors of Suicide Day is on Saturday, November 23, 2013. The day will be hosted, for the first time in Oklahoma, at the University of Central Oklahoma.

The event has been brought to our community by the efforts of the Edmond Suicide Prevention Taskforce. As a member of this taskforce and an accredited member of the American Association of Suicidolgy, HeartLine impacts our community by answering calls from 76 Oklahoma counties on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK and provides referrals through 2-1-1 to link people who need help to people who can give help. We are also available on crisis chat M-F 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. at www.heartlineoklahoma.org . For a special preview of 2013 International Survivors of Suicide Day, check out this video link from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Please remember that here at HeartLine, we are available 24/7/365 to provide help, hope and information. For information about HELP, HeartLine’s youth suicide prevention initiative, visit our dedicated Suicide Prevention and Outreach page.

This blog is brought to you by Azure Herrera, Community Resource Specialist.


Aug 8, 2013

By ryates

Health Benefits of Laughter

Perhaps laughter is the best medicine. Studies have shown that laughter is very good for your body and health. It can help lower blood pressure levels, relieve pain, and improve memory and alertness. Laughter is also great for your immune system because it increases the production of antibodies to fend off viruses. It uses muscle groups similar to taking a walk and can improve oxygen levels. Laughter has also been used as a treatment for depression.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America use laughter therapy to assist their patients. “Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness.” It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort. 

Mark Twain summed it up best: “The human race has one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” If you are depressed and are needing someone to talk to and maybe laugh with, our call specialists at 2-1-1 are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.  

This blog is brought to you by Bryan Lewis, Call Center Coordinator

Apple and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have announced an update to iPhones that will allow users to more easily connect to the Lifeline. When the iOS digital assistant Siri is presented with a user that indicates he or she is considering suicide, the program will offer to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Before this most recent addition, Siri could show the locations of centers but not offer to call them.

The change was brought about when Lifeline staff became aware of a YouTube video that features a woman seeking assistance for suicidal thoughts on the iPhone. The woman tried several ways of asking Siri to find help for depression or suicide. Siri repeatedly replied that she did not understand. Lifeline staff was alarmed after viewing the video and contacted Apple to work on a solution. Apple executives agreed that an update was critical.

If Siri receives a query that suggests a user may be considering suicide, it will now prompt the individual to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and offer to phone the hotline directly. If the prompt is dismissed, Siri will then display a list of suicide prevention centers closest to the user’s location.

Apple and Lifeline staff collaborated with other suicide prevention organizations to identify key words and phrases that might indicate suicidal intent. Siri’s new offering is activated by statements such as “I’m going to jump off a bridge,” or “I think I want to kill myself.”

The change to Siri’s recommendations will be a feature in both iOS 6 and iOS 7. On devices without a calling feature, such as the iPad and the iPod touch, Siri will list and read off the NSPL phone number and will then search for nearby suicide prevention centers.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255).

Nov 15, 2012

By HeartLine Administrator

November 17th – International Survivors of Suicide Day

Every day, someone in Oklahoma dies by suicide, leaving friends and family behind to try to make sense of a tragic loss. In Oklahoma, suicide is also the 2nd leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. November 17th is International Survivors of Suicide Day, a time set aside for the survivor community to come together for mutual support, and practical guidance on coping with grief. HeartLine would like to honor survivors of suicide.

If you’ve lost someone you love to suicide, you are not alone; you are a part of a unique network of others who understand the profound loss and overwhelming emotions of losing a loved one to suicide.At HeartLine, we want to honor the memory of those who have been lost to suicide and show our support to the families and friends who have been left behind. No one chooses to walk the path of a suicide survivor, but there is hope, help, and healing to light the way.

HeartLine is here to offer support and resources. Call 2-1-1 for information and referrals for many different services such as Survivors of Suicide groups, counseling, and mental health care. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Call Specialists are standing by, 24 hours a day. For information about HELP, HeartLine’s youth suicide prevention initiative, visit our dedicated Suicide Prevention and Outreach page.

This blog brought to you by Kelly Rogers, Call Center Team Lead

KOCO-TV 5, HeartLine, Oklahoma’s Community Crisis Connection, and The United Way of Central Oklahoma,  are partnerhing to announce “A Day Of Hope.” This special community event on Monday, November 12th is focused on teenage suicide prevention and anchored by KOCO-TV 5’s Jessica Schambach. “A Day Of Hope” will provide community resources and local experts with support and assistance for families and teenagers, all to help save lives.

Teenage suicide is at a crisis level in our community. Oklahoma ranks as the 12th highest in the nation for deaths by suicide, according to 2009 data. One in four local teenagers surveyed by HeartLine has experienced depression and/or thought about suicide. In the city of Edmond alone, three unrelated teenagers died by suicide in a two week period earlier this year. After covering these tragic stories, Jessica Schambach and the news team at KOCO-TV 5 decided to take action against this trend, partnering with HeartLine and the United Way. “A Day Of Hope” is the result. Local families who have lost a child to suicide are also joining in this event, courageously sharing their stories to help keep other families from experiencing this devastating loss.

“This is a critical issue for local families and our entire community. As a mother I can’t imagine the heartbreak of losing a child,” said Jessica Schambach, KOCO-TV 5 Anchor. “Reporting on this story exposed the need for more help and with help comes hope. We are grateful to HeartLine and United Way for partnering with us in this important effort to save lives.”

“A Day Of Hope” begins Monday November 12th with KOCO-TV 5’s Eyewitness News 5 in the Morning. HeartLine’s  Director of Development, Lisa Harper, will be live in the KOCO-TV 5 studios during the morning news to talk about the crisis and share help available. HeartLine has been serving Oklahoma since 1971, and provides suicide prevention outreach programs, listening and intervention services, and answers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for 76 of 77 Oklahoma counties. Promotion of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK, will also begin in the morning news and continue the entire day on KOCO-TV 5. Later in the afternoon, people will be able to submit questions online in a live anonymous web forum on KOCO.com from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. The live forum will be moderated and feature an expert answering submitted questions. KOCO.com will also feature an enhanced Suicide Prevention resource page where visitors can get access to many resources all in one place.

Coverage continues with Jessica Schambach anchoring the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news live from the United Way of Central Oklahoma. There a panel of experts will answer live and submitted viewer questions. Schambach will also share stories of local families working to overcome their loss and prevent others from losing a child to suicide in the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows. Schambach will conclude coverage with a special story on Eyewitness News 5 at 10 p.m.

Members of the special panel airing live at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. will include: Susan Alberts, School Psychologist at Edmond North High School; Sarah Barry, Business and Community Development Liaison at Integris Mental Health; Kris Bryant, Senior Supervisor and Therapist, NorthCare Children’s Mobile Crisis Team; David Harris, Prevention Program Manager, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Louise Thurman, Psychiatrist and CEO of IPS Research Company; Rachel Yates, Director of Suicide Prevention and Outreach Programs at HeartLine; Kenneth Elliott, Director of the Violence Prevention Project at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“A Day Of Hope” airs on KOCO TV-5 and KOCO.com, Monday, November 12, 2012.


What a great way to end the week with a news interview on KFOR 4 about HeartLine’s Festival of Hope! Thank you Rocky Dunham for joining HeartLine on the show to talk about how HeartLine has impacted your life.

Festival of Hope is August 24th at 6:30 p.m. at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Co- Chaired by Tom and Lisa Price, this event seeks to raise awareness and funds for HeartLine’s vital programs. To learn more about this event, view a sponsor list, and purchase tickets online, please visit the Festival of Hope page.


Tragedy has hit the Edmond community with three teen suicides in only two weeks.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Oklahoma for youth ages 10-24 and Oklahoma ranks 8th worst nationally in deaths by suicide. 

HeartLine has been Oklahoma’s Community Crisis Connection for over 40 years, offering help, hope, and information 24 hours a day through 2-1-1, an information and referral line for health and human services and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK.  Lisa Harper, HeartLine’s Director of Development states, “Dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one is difficult and we encourage anyone looking for a listening ear to call into one of HeartLine’s many available lines. Also, individuals interested in finding resources for mental health providers or counseling can call 2-1-1 to receive referral information specific to their needs.  These calls will be answered right in the heart of Oklahoma City, by fellow Oklahomans that are ready and willing to listen with compassion and care.”

For schools, HeartLine offers HELP, a free youth suicide prevention initiative called the Healthy Education for Life Program. The Healthy Education for Life Program includes information on the impact of depression, school and parental issues, substance abuse and other youth-related challenges and helps identify at-risk students. The program focuses on teaching youth common warning signs of suicide and a three step action plan of how to get help individually or for a friend. Following the presentations, over 26% of youth have self-identified as being at risk for suicide or depression.  These students are directly referred for additional mental health treatment. The video-based program currently reaches approximately 5,000 Oklahoma youth annually. 

HeartLine’s HELP program is listed on the Suicide Prevention Resource Centers Best Practices Registry for its adherence to standards. Middle and High Schools in the Oklahoma City Metro Area, including areas like Edmond and Norman, can contact HeartLine to have the program brought to their school at no cost.  “HeartLine believes that education is a key to prevention,” states Kelly Nutter, HeartLine’s Executive Director. “Teaching young people the warnings signs to watch for in a friend can truly save a life.”

HeartLine, Oklahoma’s Community Crisis Connection, is only a phone call away.  HeartLine operates twenty-four hours a day through 2-1-1, the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and provides call specialists trained in crisis intervention and compassionate listening skills to speak with callers in need.   

For more information or to request a presentation, contact Harper at 840-9396, email lharper@heartlineoklahoma.org or visit http://www.heartlineoklahoma.org/.

Nov 8, 2011

By HeartLine Administrator

Audrey Hatley Award Presented to Heritage Hall Middle School

Heritage Hall Middle School student body

It was our pleasure on October 27th and 28th to visit Heritage Hall Middle School.  We had the rare treat of presenting seven HELP presentations simultaneously to seventh and eighth graders on the 27th and awarding Heritage Hall Middle School with the Audrey Hatley Award on the 28th.  Heritage Hall received the award for incorporating HeartLine’s HELP initiative into its seventh and eighth grade curriculum last year.  See the link for a gallery of photographs from the presentation.

Audrey Hatley Award Presentation 2011 Photo Gallery

A History of the Audrey Hatley Award

Each year, HeartLine recognizes a school that has placed special emphasis on health and safety education.  Recipients incorporate any of a number of public safety initiatives, such as suicide prevention and awareness, mental health education, depression screenings, substance abuse awareness, and school violence awareness, into their overall curriculum. The award is named for Audrey Hatley, a fourteen-year-old girl who took her own life. Audrey Hatley’s story is a reminder of the importance of understanding and taking action on the warning signs of depression and suicide.

HELP–the Healthy Education for Life Program

HELP, HeartLine’s Healthy Education for Life Program, provides free, interactive training to increase awareness and empower students to prevent bullying and suicide among peers. Since its inception in 1997, HELP has reached over 41,000 students in the Oklahoma City metro area with its in-class presentations and seminars. HELP learning opportunities focus on dispelling the negative stigma of getting help for mental illness and suicidal tendencies, understanding the warning signs of suicide in peers, and learning how to take action so that at-risk students are identified and receive the help they need. ASK-LISTEN-TELL is the cornerstone of HELP and is a simple and easily remembered model that students can employ if they suspect a peer is depressed or suicidal.

In 2008, HeartLine’s HELP initiative was recognized by the American Association of Suicidology Best Practices Registry for suicide prevention. The initiative includes a 20-minute video, role playing activities, an interactive story board activity, and the cornerstone of HELP: the Ask-Listen-Tell model. HELP presentations also include a brief evaluation in which students have the opportunity to self identify as being at risk for depression or suicide.

For more information about HeartLine’s HELP initiative, please contact Lisa Harper, Director of Suicide Prevention and Outreach Programs at lharper@heartlineoklahoma.org or by phone at 405.840.9396 x114.