Coroner in Frankfort’s county says suicides doubled in 2020, while overdoses rose by almost half; those with fentanyl nearly tripled; state drug policy chief says 2020 will be worst year for ODs
Kentucky coroners aren’t required to issue annual reports, but some do, and the 2020 report from Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod suggests it’s a good time to ask your coroner for a report. As experts have warned, the pandemic seems to have increased drug overdoses and suicides, at least in Frankfort’s county.
Harrod’s preliminary report to the county Fiscal Court on Dec. 30 said that overdose-related deaths in the county with the state capital increased from 17 to 25 in 2020, most involving the powerful opioid fentanyl, and the number of suicides doubled, to 12.
“While we can not confirm the rise in cases are Covid-19 related, we can correlate the increase of cases with the pandemic experience,” including isolation as a result of restrictions, Harrod said.
“Those numbers may change, he said, as several investigations were still pending at the end of the year,” The State Journal reports
“Deaths involving fentanyl nearly tripled from seven in 2019 to 20 in 2020,” the Frankfort newspaper reports. “In December, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Lucas DeBorde told the Fiscal Court there had been four fentanyl-related deaths in two months. Frankfort Fire and EMS Chief Wayne Briscoe said at the time EMS crews had already worked 87 opioid overdoses, including fentanyl, since July 1. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, Briscoe said the department responded to 109 opioid-related overdoses.”
Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said on a Foundation for Healthy Kentucky webinar Jan. 11 that during the pandemic, “The epidemic that we were in, of substance use disorder, only worsened; 2020 will be by far our worse year for fatal drug overdoses. . . . It’s just been a horrible year for overdoses in general and in overdose deaths as well.”