This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A state-run department has started an initiative to support suicide prevention in the workplace.

The workplace can make a significant difference in suicide prevention, according to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse (ODMHSAS).

“Approximately 80 percent of all people who die by suicide are of working age, making the workplace the most cross-cutting system for suicide prevention, intervention and crisis response; and, more and more workplaces understand that they have a part to play in helping to address this issue,” an ODMHSAS news release states.

ODMHSAS launched the “Are You OK?” initiative to foster suicide prevention in the workplace.

A free digital training tool and other assets have been set up for suicide prevention training and are available at www.oklahoma.gov/odmhsas/are-you-ok.html.

The training tool features knowledge and support from suicide survivors, prevention professionals and Oklahoma small business, state and community leaders.

Workplaces across the nation are taking a better look at mental health promotion and suicide prevention, shifting from a ‘not our business’ stance to a mindset that says ‘we can do better.’

ODMHSAS is working to ensure Oklahoma is a leader in the new approach, creating workplace resources that address suicide prevention and provide straightforward strategies that will save lives and alleviate suffering, according to the news release.

“We hope this ground-breaking effort helps provide the inspiration and the roadmap to move workplaces and the organizations that support them from inactive bystanders to bold leaders,” said Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges. “Addressing behavioral health in the workplace supports our state’s economic well-being in addition to bettering the health and wellness of all Oklahomans.”

“Are you OK?” – a simple question – can make a big difference in the lives of people who may be dealing with mental issues, as well as the lives of the people who care about them, according to the new release.

“The initiative’s goal is to improve workplace culture by reducing the stigma and fears around suicide and mental health issues, and to help build a comprehensive and sustained suicide prevention program,” the news release states.

ODMHSAS expanded suicide prevention outreach efforts over the past several years, according to the news release.

“Still, far too many Oklahomans are impacted by thoughts of suicide, and too many families have been impacted by the loss of a loved-one. The added stressors of the pandemic have raised concerns, as calls to crisis and support lines have increased over the past year,” the news release states.

Oklahomans who are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or in crisis can call the suicide prevention lifeline at (800) 273-8255 for immediate access to a caring professional who will listen and help. Also, a call to 211 from anywhere in the state can link Oklahomans to other support services, including referral to area behavioral health providers.

“Services are available regardless of a person’s ability to pay,” the news release states.

Organizations and businesses interested in learning more about “Are You OK?” can do so by visiting www.oklahoma.gov/odmhsas/are-you-ok.html.

Go to www.ODMHSAS.org for additional information about training, free resources and access to statewide treatment services.