ASHLAND — Boyd County had the third highest rate of overdose deaths in 2017 among Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Its overdose death rate of 64.6 per capita ranked behind only the counties of Kenton and Campbell in Northern Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond said his statistics show the county had 38 deaths, not 31 as shown in the state 2017 overdose fatality report.
With more than half the year gone, the numbers for 2018 aren’t showing any improvement, Hammond said Thursday.
“Through the end of June, we have had 19 fatal overdoses,” he said. “That’s going to go up because we’ve had two or three more in July.”
While heroin sometimes laced with fentanyl, a powerful and unpredictable opioid, is causing most of the deaths, Hammond is seeing a resurgence in deaths caused by meth. Drug abusers are concerned about fentanyl-laced heroin and are turning to meth, Hammond said.
Statewide, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy showed fatal overdoses in the Bluegrass State totaled 1,565 in 2017, an 11.5 percent increase over 2016.
Fentanyl was a factor in more than half those deaths, and meth contributed to about 29 percent of deaths, more than double the total for 2016, according to the report. Users ages 35 to 44 were among the most impacted, with 353 deaths statewide.
Meanwhile, the number of suicides in Boyd County also is on the rise in 2018, Hammond said. The number of deaths by suicide was up to 11 for the first six months of the year.
“We had four in one week,” he said. “We usually have 11 in a whole year.”
Hammond and Pathways, the mental health organization for 10 northeastern Kentucky counties including Boyd, are hosting a special free showing of “Suicide: The Ripple Effect” at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29, at the KYOVA 10 Theatre.
“We want to talk about suicide prevention,” Hammond said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have increased in all but one state (Nevada) between 1999 and 2016. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.