Coroner: Overdose deaths and suicides surge amid pandemic

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 8:39 PM EST
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BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - Just over 300,000 Americans have died from complications related to COVID-19, but the trickledown effect of the virus has been deadly as well.

Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond says his office has processed nearly 100 more deaths this year than last.

In September, the county was only about eight overdose deaths away from topping 2019′s totals. Hammond says while the official number hasn’t been finalized, he knows it will be a higher year.

“We do relate that a lot to the pandemic, for the simple fact that they can’t go to meetings, they don’t have that support. They have idle time,” said Hammond.

He says his office saw a noticeable spike in the spring when the stimulus checks were mailed out. He recalls that surge lasting about a month.

The suicide rates are also surging, especially with this time of year.

Hammond says people becoming consumed with the virus and updates could be a reason, but the isolation from quarantining and staying socially distant mixed with not being able to be with family, is a contributing factor.

Medical deaths are also higher. Hammond says that’s likely because people are avoiding going to the doctor or hospital for fear of contracting COVID-19.

The morgue has also been close to capacity several times and additional storage units were brought in to be on standby. The office also worked with emergency management to secure more just incase the surges continued.

Though the vaccine is being rolled out across the country, Hammond doesn’t think it will be a quick fix to the surges in deaths.

“I think we’ll deal with these effects long term,” predicted Hammond. “These effects will go way into next year.”

For help treating an addiction, click here. For information on the suicide hotline, click here.

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