Coroner: Suicide Deaths Increase in Erie County - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Coroner: Suicide Deaths Increase in Erie County

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While the number of homicides in Erie County has gone down, the number suicides has gone up.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Erie County has also increased dramatically in the past year.

The numbers were released in the Erie County Coroner's annual report, out Friday.

They said out of 149 accidental deaths, 49 of them involved drugs; and one drug in particular.

"Although the actual numbers have stayed the same, the percentage of the drug deaths involving heroin have almost tripled," said Erie County Coroner, Lyell Cook.

David Andino is the manager of Gaudenzia's halfway house for men.  He was a heroin addict for 13 years and knows how hard it is to escape addiction.

"The more you do, the more you want," said Andino.  "We have this false sense of "we can do more" and unfortunately that next level of getting high is your last one," he said.

Over the past year, Andino has seen an increased number of people seeking help for heroin addiction; that observation correlates with the coroner's report.

Other counselors at Gaudenzia say heroin is easy to overdose on because you never know how strong it's going to be.

"This isn't a pill that you're getting that's made in a laboratory with machines," said counselor, Ryan Wood.  "This is something that's mixed and cut on the streets."

Cook can also speak to the potency of the drug, "It's pure to the point where we've had a number of cases where the needle is still in the arm when we arrive on the scene," he said.

While the coroner's report doesn't break down the exact number of drug deaths involving heroin, Cook said what he's seen is alarming; and he doesn't for see it stopping anytime soon.

"I don't have a good feeling about it and I think it's going to go on, but i'm hoping it won't," he said.

Cook also said none of the heroin-related deaths, this year, have been mixed with things like rat poison or baby powder.  3 of those deaths, however, did involve Fentanyl.

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