As this pandemic shifts to an endemic, damage to our collective mental health remains. Perhaps the most troubling development since 2020 is the diminishing mental health of young people, which continues today. Suicide has always been a risk for young people, but rates of suicide have soared during the past two years, both nationally and in Oklahoma.
During the pandemic, we have seen children struggle, leading to increases in the number of serious emotional issues, school failure, substance use, juvenile justice involvement or suicide attempts. Youth with school problems were identified as 3.1 to 7.4 times more likely to attempt suicide.
We need your help now more than ever.
For the 30 to 50 percent of children who receive mental health care in schools, ongoing shifts between in-person and virtual classes changes the access to mental health services many children count on. Even during virtual classes, some children found ways to confide to a teacher, “I am home by myself,” “I got hit last night,” or “I’m depressed.” Virtually teachers became more adept at noticing withdrawn teens and continue to make referrals where they can.
F&CS remains proactive, dedicated and nimble in our response to meet the evolving needs of area children and families. Through a partnership with Tulsa Public Schools, we provide two specialized crisis mobile response teams for students in crisis throughout the district. In addition, a “bridge” team further assesses students to determine what level of care they need from F&CS or other community providers.
We recently launched a community awareness campaign focused on treating anxiety and depression among students to prevent suicide. The campaign, “It’s Okay to Ask for Help,” has two major goals — to provide immediate help to young people who may be suffering from anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts, and to focus the community’s attention on the national and local epidemic of mental health challenges as we emerge from the pandemic.
Now we are calling on you to aid us in our mission to save the lives of Oklahoma’s children. With your help, we can continue to fund and launch programs that will prevent suicide. Your gift will help someone just like Jared realize his worth and potential.
We are profoundly grateful to you and other like-minded heroes in our community for your enduring support over the past 100 years — and especially through this unparalleled crisis. THANK YOU.
Please join us NOW in giving a gift to F&CS as we continue to change the lives of our city’s future.
If you or a family member are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call COPES at 918.744.4800.
Jared was flourishing in his first year of middle school. He was making new friends, had straight A’s and was looking forward to visiting his dad in a neighboring state over spring break. But then the pandemic hit, and everything changed.
Jared’s ADHD made virtual studies difficult, and his grades began to slip. His mom, a front-line worker, was still needed daily at her job. She was unable to give Jared the school supervision and attention that he needed, and without other family support nearby, Jared was left alone.
He began to feel more isolated and like a failure. Subjects that used to excite him, now gave him
anxiety. New friendships that had begun to form now felt abandoned.
Soon he felt like he was just one more thing his mom had to worry about and wondered if everyone’s life would be better if he simply weren’t around.
Jared began to conduct suicide-related searches on his school-issued Chromebook. His teacher received an alert, and together with his mom, called COPES, F&CS’s 24/7 crisis line. A plan was quickly put into place to keep Jared safe. He began to see a school-based therapist who helped him realize that he isn’t alone and that these feelings wouldn’t last forever.
Today, we are happy to report that Jared is back in school and doing great. Better than great. His grades have improved. His friendships are strong. He knows that life is worth living, and even in times of darkness, there is hope.