Overdose deaths, suicides up in county

Published 7:47 am Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Coroner gives report on his office

PEDRO — Overdose deaths and suicides are seeing an increase in Lawrence County this year, according to county coroner Dr. Ben Mack, who was at the county commission meeting Tuesday to give a report.

“Our case loads are up to about 38 investigations so far this year, with five of those being open,” he said. “And our overdose death count is up to 16, which is above last year already.”

Mack added that although there have been more overdose deaths in 2018 than in years past; the causes remain nearly the same.

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“We’re still seeing the same causes, being fentanyl, with most of our overdose deaths being caused by fentanyl,” he said.

Mack said that his office is now using a new toxicology report, which has helped response times, by the use of a mouth swab rather than a blood sample.

“With the mouth swab, we send it off to Pittsburgh and get the results in about 48 hours,” he said. “When we took blood samples, it would take up to two weeks to get those back.”

Mack said that in addition, Lawrence County has seen a spike in suicides in 2018 with seven already, adding that other local coroners he spoke to haven’t seen an increase in their respective counties.

Mack was also recently appointed to the Ohio State Coroner’s Association Board of Directors, which meets in Columbus four times a year.