Oklahomans die violent deaths at a rate 24 percent higher than that of all the participating states in a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports the Tulsa World. Oklahoma was one of 16 states that provided data for the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System. The report represents the first detailed summary of violent deaths by the CDC, which plans to expand its research to include all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
The report categorizes violent deaths as suicides; homicides and deaths from legal interventions; deaths of undetermined intent; and unintentional deaths. Oklahoma’s violent death rate of 25.4 per 100,000 people in 2005 was about 24 percent higher than the 20.5 violent deaths per 100,000 people in all 16 reporting states combined. Oklahoma’s high rate was attributed to a high number of suicides and deaths of undetermined manner. Jeff Dismukes of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services attributes the state’s high suicide rate to a high number of residents with mental-health and substance-abuse problems. “About 26 percent of all Oklahomans have a mental or addictive disorder, and the issue there is a large number of people are not receiving treatment,” he said. Other factors that contributed to the state’s high suicide rate are its high poverty rate and number of residents without sufficient access to health care, he said.