OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and the Oklahoma City Fire Department says it’s seeing an increase in attempted suicide calls.

The 988 Mental Health Lifeline says it’s averaging 4,000 calls a month from Oklahomans.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department is sounding the alarm after seeing a dramatic increase in attempted suicide calls. 

“Years previously, tracking back to 2018, 2019, during the same time frame January through May, we were responding to around 500. We did see an increase in 2020 and it has gradually increased in this year,” said Capt. Scott Douglas, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.  

The Oklahoma City Fire Department says they have responded to around 1,000 attempted suicide calls just this year.

That’s about seven a day since January 1st and mental health officials say the problem in Oklahoma is only getting worse. 

“I think it’s hurtful to know that anyone is struggling and that there are resources available to them and maybe they just didn’t get them ahead of time,” said Bonnie Campo, senior director of public relations of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

988 Oklahoma is a free service and available for people struggling with mental health. The resource is able to help those in need within a matter of seconds by just calling or texting 988. 

“Sometimes it’s just having a bad day and they need someone to talk to because in that anonymous way, you feel like there is no judgment. But it could also be that we need to send out physical resources to a location so that we can help those people get in-person services if they need that,” said Campo.  

988 Oklahoma data shows one in five Oklahomans struggle with a mental health issue. That’s about 789,000 Oklahomans. 

“Our job is saving lives. We want to save lives. We want to put prevention in place first. Maybe there were not enough prevention efforts, and that’s why we’re pushing 988 so hard, is now that we’re not going to see those numbers spike. It’s all about getting there earlier rather than when it’s too late,” said Campo. 

The Oklahoma City Fire Department is staying busier than ever, but the department is now providing firefighters with resources to help with their mental health. 

“Oklahoma City Fire Department did recently hire a counselor for the firefighters. So, we have mental health issues as well, you know, and she’s there just as basically as an aide for us. So mental health is an issue. And we just want to identify that not only with the residents and attempted suicide calls that will go on, but also for firefighters, health and wellbeing,” said Douglas. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, you can call or text 988 and you will be in contact with someone in 10 seconds. 

Throughout the rest of Mental Health Awareness Month, 988 Oklahoma is launching events and content every day in May to help you learn more about mental health and the resources available for you and your loved ones. 

Find Oklahoma mental health data here

Find Oklahoma mental health resources here