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Local News

Will County Coroner's office calls 2019 opioid overdose death numbers 'staggering'

Will County Coroner Pat O'Neil addresses the County Board's Public Health & Safety Committee Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 regarding the record-breaking opioid overdose deaths in Will County.
Will County Coroner Pat O'Neil addresses the County Board's Public Health & Safety Committee Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 regarding the record-breaking opioid overdose deaths in Will County.

Will County Deputy Chief Coroner Laurie Summers said the number of heroin and fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the county last year was “staggering.”

The Will County Coroner’s Office completed its evaluation of the number of opioid overdose deaths for 2019, according to a news release.

The coroner’s office found that heroin and fentanyl were responsible for 101 of the 133 total accidental overdose deaths last year in Will County. Summers linked the use of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid typically used to treat severe chronic pain, to the rise in deaths.

“Fentanyl has been discovered to be a game changer in the fight against opioid related drug deaths,” Summers said in the release.

Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil noted in the release that his office started tracking heroin-related deaths in 1999 when they recorded six deaths. He said in the release the latest numbers represent a 1,583% increase.

O’Neil and Summers said they believe the increased use of naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, has saved lives throughout the county.

Kathleen Burke, Will County’s director of substance use initiatives, shared similar sentiments when she reported data on 2019 overdose deaths to the Will County Board last month. She said she has trained about 1,700 people on how to use naloxone and that between 2018 and 2019 there was a 64% increase in deployments of the drug.

For more information on overdose deaths, visit the Will County Coroner’s website at willcountyillinois.com.

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