Local & Regional
6:53 am
Mon January 21, 2013

Oklahoma National Guard Emphasizes Suicide Prevention

Oklahoma National Guard members at a deployment meetings
Oklahoma National Guard members at a deployment meetings
Credit Oklahoma National Guard

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma National Guard is emphasizing suicide prevention efforts as the number of military personnel who take their own life rises.

Guard Captain Sharon Rice says that she gets two or three calls per month about a soldier suffering mental stress.

The guard reports that 16 Oklahoma soldiers have taken their lives since 2001 while 19 have died in combat. The Pentagon has reported a record 349 suicides in 2012 while an Associated Press count shows 295 Americans killed in Afghanistan during the year.

Rice says the Oklahoma National Guard has expanded its suicide prevention program: created a program to teach leaders what to watch for to indicate a soldier is struggling; and added a program to give soldiers better coping and communication skills.