Suicides, Drug Overdoses Spike Nationwide During Pandemic

Monday, July 27th 2020, 6:49 pm
By: Kelsey Kernstine


Oklahoma has the tenth-highest suicide rate in the country, and recent research suggests the pandemic will cause 75,000 additional deaths across the nation by overdose or suicide.

Harold Rayfield, a licensed therapist in Oklahoma City, at Spring Eternal Behavioral Health, said he's seen an uptick in patients, "the number of calls, the number of people: it's increased substantially."

Most of the patients Rayfield said he’s been seeing are dealing with generalized anxiety and a lot more depression.

Rayfield said he's seen a lot of young people at the clinic, college students out of classes, young singles in isolation and people working from home.

“Stress and worry from the job come home with them, so home is not necessarily a safe place,” Rayfield said.

And the stress adds up -- people are out of work, with bills to pay, kids to feed, and restaurants and bars are closed.

"We're used to being busy as Americans doing things, going places, and running around,” Rayfield said.

But when stress becomes too big to deal with, Rayfield said, there's several warning signs to pay attention to: “isolating themselves, not talking, not communicating as much, mood changes, mood swings, people not eating as much."

And there's no need to be a problem solver.

"Just be a listening ear. Say, 'how are things going?, how are you doing?, how have you been feeling?,'” Rayfield said.

Rayfield points out the importance of talking through your feelings.

"As therapists, we see all different types of people. There's no job that is too big or small. If you just need someone to talk to because you're having a difficult time at work, if you don't have someone to reach out to, call a therapist. We'd love to work with you," he said.

If you are or someone you know is in need of immediate help, call the 24 hour National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.

Or, you can call the Oklahoma Help Line at 211.

To connect with Harold Rayfield, you contact him at (405) 458-7497.