Cuyahoga County Fentanyl Deaths Skyrocket 433 Percent in 2016: Medical Examiner Releases Year's End Report

The Cuyahoga County medical examiner released the final year's end report on 2016 fatal drug overdoses, landing on an inauspicious total of 666 deaths last year. (The unofficial number we've been using for months now has been 663.)

This marks a sharp and concerted increase from 370 deaths in 2015, 353 in 2014 and 340 in 2013. Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson predicts 775 overdose deaths this year alone. As we've reported many times over the past two years, all signs point to the opiate overdose crisis only getting worse before it gets better.

Also notable among the new data is a dramatic increase in deaths attributed specifically to fentanyl overdose: 399 last year, compared to 92 in 2015, 37 in 2014 and 5 in 2013. That's a 433 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

The full report contains a number of different data sets, broken down into a variety of categories and perspectives. Victim demographics, for instance, are all over the map, though a clear majority comprises white males ages 30-44.

(The report slips in a quick page on homicides in the city and county. Again, in Cleveland, the homicide count is rising as well: 144 last year, 129 in 2015 and 108 in 2014.)

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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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