Suicide prevention in primary care

April 29, 2022

National trends show that suicide deaths have steadily increased in the U.S. since 2007, with youth suicide rates more than doubling in the same time period. In 2020, Oklahoma ranked 6th in the nation for suicide mortality, and the number of youth suicide deaths in the state was higher than the national average.

Despite increased funding and research for prevention strategies, suicide has continued to persist as a public health crisis in the U.S. and in Oklahoma. We must strengthen efforts and explore innovative policy strategies to decrease suicide deaths across the state. This paper provides an overview of policy recommendations and best practices for suicide prevention in primary care settings.

Key Findings

  • The evidence is clear: to become a leader in suicide prevention, Oklahoma must ensure widespread screening, early intervention protocols, and provider training in primary and general healthcare settings.
  • Best practices are being adopted in Oklahoma now, and the state has an environment ripe for additional expansion. Early adoption of models such as Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) are key examples.
  • Funding and regulatory barriers must be addressed to ensure these efforts succeed. For example, the state’s Medicaid program only reimburses physicians for SBIRT if a screening is positive.
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