Oklahoma is a “Top Ten State,” alright….for despair.

COVID-19 aside, Oklahoma ain’t doing too hot lately. In fact, a recent clickbaity study by Zippia reported that our state is rated #1 in despair. How’s that for a “Top 10 State?” But I think we need to better understand what this “study” means for us as Oklahomans. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, despair is defined as, “utter loss of hope.” According to Oklahoma, despair is defined as, “utter loss of leadership.”


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Researchers with Zippia, a resource website for job seekers, says Oklahoma tops the list of states with most despair.

The study was based on the following five categories: depression rate, suicide rate, opioid use, poverty rate and hours worked, all things that researchers say Oklahoma didn’t score well on.

“Oklahoma across the board kind of had low numbers which is a little unusual,” Kathy Morris with Zippia told KFOR. “I wish there was one area we could say Oklahoma needs to focus on to reduce the general rate of despair.”

Zippia says Oklahoma ranked sixth for opioid prescriptions, and had a depression rate just outside of the Top 10, but they still thought it was surprising to see Oklahoma ranked number one.

Usually I roll my eyes at the cherry-picked presentation of data in these clickbait articles, but for once they’re pretty damn accurate. The opioid use, depression, and suicide rates in Oklahoma are appalling. Opioids are addictive and potentially deadly substances and we have a state where the rate of prescriptions are over 50% higher than the national average. On top of that, two years ago Oklahoma had the eighth worst rate of suicide in the country. What’s worse is that since COVID-19 mental health professionals in the state have seen an even more jolting increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But what do we expect from a state that cut about $52 million in mental health and substance abuse care funding over a four year period?

As for poverty rate and number of hours worked, we have to remember that our state sets us up for failure. Sitting pretty at $7.25 per hour, the rate is a third less than what it takes for a single person with no children to afford to make ends meet with a 40-hour workweek. In fact, Oklahoma’s minimum wage hasn’t been raised by our lawmakers since I was a part-time movie theater cashier back in 2008. When are these lawmakers who tout, “personal responsibility,” going to take their own advice?

“We usually see more of a regional focus,” Morris said. “So, Oklahoma being on top with this cluster of southern states isn’t what I anticipated.”

Local experts tell KFOR it isn’t that surprising. Oklahoma has been behind the rest of the country in these areas for a while.

The whole, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality of our state’s leadership is bullshit on multiple levels. For one, contrary to what seems to be typical republican belief, the old saying is less of a proverb and more of a tongue-in-cheek jab at staunch individualism because it is impossible to pull oneself up by their own bootstraps. Two, unless the goal of their policies and laws are to kill their constituents, our lawmakers and leaders have failed us.

Yet, Oklahoma’s elected officials always appear to run on platforms that promise to improve our lives. As Will Rogers once said, “If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.” Hell, at this point if we got 1% of what was promised in these acceptance speeches maybe all Oklahomans could afford to stay alive.

The national suicide hotline number is (800) 273-TALK (8255). To get connected with other essential needs like food or housing assistance, call 211 or visit 211.org. Follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek

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48 Responses

  1. Oklahoma legislators do not “always appear to run on platforms that promise to improve our lives.” They run on platforms that give their pseudo-religious constituents some minuscule minority to hate. That gives them something unifying to cling to amidst their despair.

    1. “Despair” is a fitting umbrella to cover all the social ills created by life becoming too painful to endure.

      Suicide is obviously a direct result of despair. Opioid addiction, alcoholism, and other substance abuse are responses to physical or emotional pain from broken families, poverty, joblessness, homelessness, threat of eviction…

      I don’t know of another “misery index” that lumps all those things together, but this study of despair is a good start.

      At least clinging to religion provides a glimmer of hope to those in despair, even when it’s false hope from a TV charlatan.

      1. And look where clinging to these false hopes and fantasies has gotten us as the majority refuses to grow up, take responsibility and do something socially productive.

        1. To be socially productive you need a job, job training, leadership Nationally and from the State but mostly political stability.
          Who wants to open a business in this environment when in the best of times you stand but a 10-20% chance of making it. You don’t even know day to day if an ignorant tweet or statement will totally flip a market or something even more serious. Who needs that? So, people sit, waiting for the stability we enjoyed under Obama-Biden and as for the working guy all he can hope for is a total reversal of “Trickle Down Economic Theory.”
          Until every politician who backs TDE is voted out we’re all going to suffer. It’s only going to get worse as the concentration of wealth goes from 18% to 5% and on and on. Something like 6 billionaires in 1980, almost 700 just in the USA, today. The 18% is moving one direction and pretty much the 82% is going the other or just getting by.
          It’s all going to get worse as long as the leaderships main goal is the further concentration of wealth. It’s so obvious it hurts. We’re protesting and raising hell over “micro” issues when the entire time unless the underlying roots of the problem are ripped out, the “Macro” issue and folks are willing to sacrifice whatever’s necessary to vote their best interests, a trump and a stitt will always be present and it will only get worse and it appears it, wealth concentration, is becoming exponential.

    2. I don’t think the majority of us that don’t fall into the category of “completely straight without any experimentation” qualifies as a miniscule minority.

      1. The date disagrees, but don’t worry, our haters find enough of these small groups — to demonize for ensuing elections — that they eventually get most of us.

        1. “Data” not “date.”

  2. We must cast staunch individualism aside in favor of more government. We need more “investment”, i.e., taxes/spending. We need to throw away the failed notion of personal responsibility and put our faith in those leaders who care for us. I’m certain I’ve heard that feel-good Democrat theme somewhere.

    1. You’re so right. We’ve had virtually NO government under the Trump/Stitt administrations, and we’re SO much better off than we were four years ago.

      1. Trump doesn’t have a clue on leading a government. He’s too self-centered to care about others.

    2. Well – lets look at “staunch individualism”‘s (which is not what we’re actually in) record. You have high depression, high suicide, high dangerous drug abuse, all while.. *checks notes*.. people are WORKING higher than average hours.
      So um… if the market is failing people (which I mean – unless you’re head is in the sand – it clearly is) then why WOULDN’T the government step in to protect its citizens? What prescription exists that’s solely driven by private enterprise to cure these social ills?
      Even a bad government program is better than high rates of suicide, depression, and opioid abuse. But keep praying to the God of Robert Mercer

    3. By “putting faith in leaders who care for us “ are you referring to Trump “only I can fix this”?

    4. It’s always funny when Republicans pretend that they’re the party of “personal responsibility” when they try so hard to find a boogeyman in minorities or gay people or immigrants. And that was before they elected a guy who never admits any mistakes.

      Some of the best growth periods in our country occurred when taxes were much higher and we were being warned of the Military Industrial Complex (by a Republican!).

      The Republican version of staunch individualism includes the right to be as individual, as long as you behave in a way they find to be socially acceptable. You have a right to be an individual as long as you don’t believe in drugs we don’t believe in or stray too far from the accepted list of religions. You can be an individual who longs for the good old days and never questions authority or what your country does (unless a Democrat is in power). You can be a staunch individual, as long as that individuality fits within their accepted list of social norms.

    5. If you can’t see that similar to a classroom where a teacher sets a general agenda and sees the class through that agenda every semester a State or Federal Government needs to actually lead a State or Nation through the crises that come up all the time.
      Take COVID for example. Could you or I lead this State or Nation from our current position? Hell no. A President or Governor leads by not telling citizens to drink Clorox or by hiding life saving information from Medical personal, community leaders and the citizenry that literally cause people to make decisions that vastly increase the chance of them needlessly dying.
      If every individual around Stitt was a habitual liar, a smart decision on the part of the Governor would be a matter of luck. I know that’s the way it appears right now anyway but under actual leadership I think you see what I mean.

    6. Well, if by Democrat you mean Republican. The rest of us think having the carpet yanked out from under you should not constitute a life and death situation.

  3. No leadership. Bowing down to the oil and gas producers. Dependence on service jobs. Minimal help to the least of the population. Oklahoma deserves this ranking.

  4. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that has as much unemployment, such a huge wealth gap, a largely uneducated public, rampant drug abuse, and the amount of untreated mental illness as the USA does.

    We can only classify such a place as a sick society, and a failed state. And this was happening BEFORE Trump and BEFORE Covid-19. Add THOSE shitty ingredients to the mix, and boy howdy!

    And when one of the already miserable 50 US states ranks as low as Oklahoma does, it’s just fucking pitiful.

    We are all in the same boat. And when a certain number of the passengers on that boat are diseased, poor, uneducated, mentally ill, and drug addicts, it ain’t gonna be a pleasant cruise for anyone, even for those who can afford a 1st Class ticket and a nice stateroom. When the “peasants” are sick and tired enough of being sick and tired, they’ll raid your stateroom and help themselves to what you have. That won’t solve the problems, of course…

    …so maybe we better quit fucking around, and figure out a way to handle the challenges facing us.

    1. The very best solution would be to leave Oklahoma, entirely and move to a better state. There are many of them. I left Oklahoma for a better State and have never been happier.

      1. I tried living in a few other states back in my younger wild and restless days and although it was interesting, I would eventually find myself getting homesick and would come back to good ole Oklahoma.
        Sort of funny, but in New York sometimes I’d find a
        country and western radio station on occasion, just to hear ‘my people’s’ accent again and generally I can’t stand country music.

        Thing is about being an Okie, we’re constantly being reminded of how this state is supposed to be so backward and behind the others and it can rub off on you and give you an attitude, making you think the grass is greener elsewhere.
        I especially hated while in school to hear some students brag about how great California was, as if they were cool for having been from there.

        All states have their good and bad points. The pay rate here is lower but then so is the cost of living.
        It boils down to the rather complicated matter of how a person manages to make the best of their circumstances, no matter where they’re at.

        It’s easy to blame your depression and unhappiness on outside sources, like where you live being the source of no opportunity.
        And in some cases it is best to jump up and leave for some other state. But it’s no so much that you’re leaving a dead end state, but more like you’re getting away from your circle of loser friends or your drunken parent or greedy ex wife and things of that sort.
        Getting away from that can allow you to apply yourself to the best of your ability without the outside interference.

        But to blame it all on the state and the politicians is oftentimes sidestepping the underlying reasons for the shortcomings of your personal life and won’t get you anywhere. Joining in with like minded haters only reinforces it and makes it worse, although it’s good to be able to vent, for sure.

        You can fall into a trap and take things to extreme and become bitter towards life as a result.
        You’re better off to look for the good, no matter where you’re off and make the best of it.

        1. I suspect the implications of your advice explains *why* there’s so much opioid and other drug use: there’s nothing practical they can do to improve their lives, so the only thing they can do to make the best of it is to “anaesthetize” themselves, for the same reasons why so many men in the USSR drank so much vodka.

          Frankly a better-off people wouldn’t have voted for legalizing marijuana.

          1. We’re all the same in that everyone can become bored with the same routines in life day after day and will seek escapism from it.
            People who have strong interests in life and really enjoy a hobby(s) of some sort are far less likely to drink or drug out than those who don’t know how to spend their spare time.

      2. Well, Mr. Smarty Pants Till Whatever, it just so happens that some of us may have been cursed by an Evil Witch and consequently can’t leave OKC ever EVER EVER. You ever think of that? Huh?
        Way to go making us feel all small and stuff.

        1. Nice day for it you are never never never stuck here because of someone else or the magical forces of some fictional character
          Its all on you bud.
          I myself have left this state a few times and came back home most of the time it was because of the Army sending me to a different state/ country but after I got out I could have went anywhere I wanted I chose to come back here and never regretted it.

          My point is you only feel small because you like playing victim and blame others on why you feel the way you do if you want to go somewhere else then make some life changes stop buying things you don’t really need save up some money find a job in a state you would like to go before you get there and find a place and go

          1. Yes, but the wages are so low here the thing you have to stop buying because you “don’t really need it” in order to actually save is *food and clothing*.

          2. Oh, gawd, Sj, you really thought I was being serious?
            Also, there is this magical tool called “punctuation” that you might look into, bud.

        2. Nice day for it,
          The purpose of my post was NOT to demean or belittle anyone. The intended meaning of my statement was very simple. If a person does not like Oklahoma, then the very best solution for that person would be to leave Oklahoma, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. I realize that not everyone can leave Oklahoma right now or possibly ever. However, if the opportunity presents itself, it would be very wise for a person to take it.

      3. One problem is I’m noticing the gap in home prices widening fast between Okla. and the states I’m assuming you’re talking about. Couldn’t buy the garage for the avg. 250k home in Okla..

    2. That excellent statement should be forwarded to our Governor. At least you could say you tried.

  5. According to this morning’s Oklahoman, we’re also a Top-10 state for NOT responding to the census. WE ARE ON A ROLL!!!

    1. I think that is more because most of us don’t know if we will survive the year. It would be bad to false represent ourselves if we are dead.

    2. GOOD!! I hope we lose another seat in congress to a blue state.

      1. That would benefit America.

  6. Well, when you fail to elect proven leadership like Mick Cornett and decide to replace him with a failed redneck like BullStitt, this is what you get.

    “MickerNett has had enough time as a leeder! We need someone who will slurp on Trump’s skeet sacks like an Icy!”

    “We don’t wunna be like Oklerhomer Ciddy! They’re starting too look too successful…..like commie ass Kaliforniuh! Our stupid ass voices madder too!”

  7. Judging from our so-called leaders (Jethro Junior, Inhoff, Banjo Boy, etc.) we should be numero uno in voter ignorance.

    1. It seems like a chicken-and-egg question. Are voters ignorant because of our so-called leaders, or do we elect these so-called leaders because of voter ignorance?

      I honestly don’t know.

      1. The “Fairness Doctrine” was shit canned, Fox News was born, hannity aborted onto the scene and the rest is history. We don’t stand a chance armed with only the facts.

      2. You basically said people who vote for someone you approve of are not ignorant, but every other person is an ignorant ass. I always got the feel you looked down your nose at certain people.

        1. I’ve just never had an issue hearing two sides to the story. Usually is in divorce and politics. Getting rid of the FD means mostly only one side is listened to thus tribes and two alternate realities.
          Long before I ever showed up in here there have been many stories about the “dumbing down” of Americans. Propaganda requires it.
          Don’t mistake arrogance for a statements of fact.
          Do you believe people are willing to spend the rest of their lives in a cage because they have a deep understanding of what donald is trying to accomplish and feel murdering one or more of the opposing ideology is in someway smarter than voting twice?

  8. Perhaps Henauder Titzoff is being sarcastic in his comment above. Perhaps not. Either way, his comment shows us exactly the prevailing attitude that makes Oklahoma a consistent Bottom Ten state.

    Do good things happen through of teamwork and an attitude of “we’re all in this together,” or through rugged individualism and “every man (sic) for himself”? America didn’t win WWII and save Western civilization through staunch individualism and tax cuts.

    Effective teamwork requires effective leadership and acceptance of leadership – from a boss, a coach, or even a political office. If you can’t accept that, you’re a lousy teammate. “Personal responsibility” includes doing the right thing for the team, not just for yourself. If you don’t believe that, you’re simply an asshole and a D-squad benchwarmer.

    1. I like the cut of your jib, sir!

    2. I’d debate you on the issues but for three reasons:

      1. This is a poor forum for honest exchange of ideas
      2. I don’t stoop to name-calling
      3. You’re clearly at a disadvantage

      Twenty-plus years in the armed forces has provided me much training, experience, and countless lessons in leadership.

  9. Wow, we beat both Mississippi and West Virginia when it comes to despair.


  10. Love those Right-to-Work Republicans who put us down forever! We will never get anywhere as long as that law in on the books!

  11. Yer great, just keep reporting TLO news for TLO subscribers, even if it hurts.

    We know you won’t bullshit us. We’re gettin the ‘straight stuff’ here of what’s goin on ‘back home’.

    Do what we do over at Soka Gakkai, ‘Never Give Up’, chant (pray)your ass off, carry out your human revolution and then conduct your life mission, seeking, receiving, giving away happiness where ever it may come from. To live among and share with others this happiness, because it’s your happiness.

    Has to come from within, generated from the mind and heart. Takes exceptional people to do it. Takes exceptional people to help others out of despair. Thanks for what your doing at TLO for’ other then ordinary’ Oklahoman…carry on.

  12. *Imagine that*

  13. Interesting piece here. Not exactly good news but good to know this stuff.
    To my chagrin that last sentence sure strikes a nerve with me. Life is costly, no matter how we dice it.
    No matter what I try I can’t make things.. work out anymore.

    1. Hey Kp I get it. Some days are just too full of bad news. We’ve made it this far, so hang in there. There are a lot of good people-we just hear about the bad.

  14. Despair=Oklahomans in National office=Oklahomans in State office=Oklahomans in City and Regional office=God save what little remnant is left.

    Hope is eternal–Sooners still have a forthcoming season.

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