WHITE CITY, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority recently released a study that said suicide is the number one cause of death for Oregon veterans under 45 who likely served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
On average, from 2008 to 2012, veteran suicide increased from about 40 suicides per 100,000 people to nearly 50.
The study showed that out of all the people who died from suicide in the state in that same time span, 23 percent were veterans.
Researchers also found that factors like homelessness, unemployment, and alcohol and substance abuse were higher in these cases. Existing mental health issues, physical health problems, and relationship problems were also linked to the veteran suicides.
The study showed 97 percent of veteran suicides are men, and Jackson and Klamath counties were two of six counties in the state with higher than average veteran suicide rates.
The VA facility in White City said staff is aware of the increase, and has been taking steps to try to lower those numbers.
Psychologists at the VA are constantly looking for risks factors, and are also trying to educate the community about the issues.
“[We are] getting out there and talking about suicide. Not only with veterans, but in our community, and informing people, not only civilians but police officers and other veterans about warning signs of suicide and what to do basically if you’re concerned that somebody that you love might be considering suicide,” said SORCC’s lead psychologist Matthew Blakeley.
Some of the warning signs to look for are depressed behavior, unhealthy or reckless lifestyle choices, and alcohol or substance abuse.
Health professionals at the VA also encourage people to take advantage of the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, text 838255, or log onto the Veterans Crisis Line website to have confidential contact with health professionals.