The Norman Transcript

Headlines

August 28, 2013

Suicide rate for Oklahoma veterans, active-duty military sees incline

NORMAN — Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem.

The 2011 suicide rate for soldiers was about 44 per 100,000 population, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of Oklahoma State Department of Health data. This rate includes active-duty military as well as veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The civilian rate for people over the age of 18 was about 22 per 100,000.

In 2011, 141 of the state’s 684 suicides were veterans, according to state health department records.

The veteran suicide rate in Oklahoma is down from a peak of about 46 in 2008, but researchers said that year had increased suicides due to the Great Recession. The rate dropped to about 39 in 2009 and has since climbed back up.

The rates were calculated by analyzing death certificates, which include military status. The state doesn’t differentiate between active-duty personnel and veterans, but it appears likely that most are veterans based on age groups at risk for suicide. The 2011 figures are the most recent data available that can be compared with population numbers.

The increased numbers and rates of suicides come at a time when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has received budget increases for mental health services, and suicide risk for service members has stirred an ongoing national discussion.

The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act of 2007 aimed to lower suicides by authorizing a national campaign to increase mental health awareness, education, counseling and suicide-prevention research.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services recently allocated $500,000 in new funding for suicide prevention programs, including veterans outreach.

The Oklahoma suicide figures appear to track national trends. An analysis by News21, an investigative journalism program based at Arizona State University, found that veteran suicides across the United States increased from 2005 to 2011.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Briarwood Elementary Briarwood, Plaza Towers buildings set to open for school year

    MOORE — Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary students and teachers will no longer be visitors in the hallways and classrooms of their temporary schools this 2014-2015 school year. Displaced and forced to relocate after the May 2013 ...

    August 2, 2014 2 Photos

  • Cooler summer comes after dry spring statewide

    August made a gentle entry this year — no triple-digit temperatures or out-of-control wildfires. Instead, a bright sun slowly cleared the clouds and warmed the day back to summer weather after a few days of what had felt like an early ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Former teacher adores ‘Red Rudy’ Impala

    For some, transportation needs to be more than just a boxy vehicle that takes you from place to place. Former Norman High School Spanish language teacher Kelly Adams is one of those. In addition to her daily driver, a big SUV, she also ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Inmate health costs rising, forcing prisons to scramble for solutions

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Taxpayers forked over nearly $1 million last year to buy inhalers to treat asthma and emphysema among inmates in state prisons. In the meantime, the state also paid for 530,647 inmate prescriptions....

    August 2, 2014

  • Town changed, even with girls’ killer behind bars

    WELEETKA — Folks once settled in this sleepy central Oklahoma town to get away from the crime and hubbub of big-city life. Many residents didn’t bolt their doors or draw their shades at night. Most here never worried about people like ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Teachers from Spain begin arriving in Oklahoma

    TULSA — Teachers recruited from Spain by a Tulsa school district have started to arrive in Oklahoma for the new academic year. The Tulsa World reports (http://bit.ly/1rS1Q2a ) four of the 11 expected educators arrived Thursday in ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Driver killed after container falls on truck named

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Police have identified the person killed after a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 2, 2014

  • Fire chief in central Oklahoma city resigns

    EDMOND — A fire chief in a central Oklahoma city has submitted his resignation....

    August 2, 2014

  • Judge continues action in sexual assault case

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A judge has found probable cause to continue criminal proceedings against an Oklahoma man accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls in Kenya. Nineteen-year-old Matthew Lane Durham, of Edmond, is accused of sexually ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Trial postponed in Duncan baseball player death

    DUNCAN — The trial for a man charged in the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player has been postponed until April....

    August 2, 2014