The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) has released its Annual Report for 2006. OMI is charged with investigating all deaths in New Mexico that are sudden, violent, unexpected or unattended by a physician.

The 2006 Annual Report addresses 5,031 deaths, of which 2,077 (41 percent) received an autopsy. The majority of deaths investigated by OMI were natural deaths (59 percent), followed by accidental deaths (28 percent), suicides (7 percent), homicides (3 percent), and undetermined deaths (3 percent). Other 2006 OMI statistics include:
  • Motor vehicle-related fatalities, the most common cause of accidental deaths in New Mexico last year, comprised 36 percent of all accidental deaths investigated by OMI.
  • After a decrease in 2005, suicides in New Mexico increased in 2006, climbing from 347 suicides in 2005 to 362 last year. More suicides were seen among men between the ages of 45 and 54 years than any other age group by gender. The number of firearm-related suicides increased 13 percent from 2005.
  • Homicide deaths decreased last year, from 179 in 2005 to 153 in 2006. Men between the ages of 25 and 34 experienced the highest number of homicides (30). Firearms were involved in 55 percent of all homicides.
  • The number of deaths among children and young people (ages 19 and younger) decreased by 13 percent from 2005 to 2006, with natural deaths (151) and accidental deaths (100) being the most common. There were 35 youth suicides (17 involving firearms) and 32 youth homicides (16 involving firearms).
  • Alcohol was found in 16 percent of deaths investigated by OMI in 2006. Drug-caused deaths increased 16 percent from 2005 to 2006, with narcotics (including heroin, hydrocodone, methadone and others) being the most commonly isolated substances.

OMI works closely with the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track specific types of deaths, including drug overdose deaths, violent deaths and sudden unexpected deaths among infants.

The OMI has long enjoyed a close relationship with the CDC, as evidenced by frequent CDC-directed foreign visitors who are seeking to observe and adapt a highly efficient model death-investigation system.

In addition to death certification, OMI is active in research and training, providing specialized education for death scene investigators, pathology residents, medical students and forensic pathology fellows. For more information on the Office of the Medical Investigator’s 2006 Annual Report, please visithttp://omi.unm.edu/.