To offer comfort, hope and support to anyone grieving the loss of a loved one from alcohol or drug-related causes.
RISE meets the 4th Thursday of every month at 7pm at:
Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care
20 W Fairmount Ave
Lakewood, NY 14750
Majority of Fatal Drug Overdoses Have Occurred Within Jamestown
Of the 50-plus fatal drug overdoses suspected this year in Chautauqua County, more than 65% have occurred in the city of Jamestown.
Through mid-October, the Jamestown Police Department has investigated 33 deaths believed to be the result of a drug overdose. Eight of the fatalities have occurred since Sept. 1, according to information JPD provides regularly through its participation in New York’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative.
Though there’s still two and a half months to go in the year, the city already has far exceeded the number of drug overdose deaths it saw in 2022 with 26. There were 34 deaths investigated by Jamestown police in 2021.
Trends over the last three years have shown a sharp rise in fatalities. Fourteen suspected fatal overdoses were recorded by the police department in 2020, with eight in 2019 and two in 2018.
JPD’s report, provided to The Post-Journal this week, states, “As of mid-October 2023, known overdose deaths have increased by 96.4% compared to the five-year total year average of 16.8 (overdose) deaths per year.”
Steve Kilburn with the county Mental Hygiene Department and Steven Cobb with the Mental Health Association relayed countywide overdose rates this week to members of the Health Board. Kilburn noted there were more than 40 overdose deaths in 2021; around 35 deaths in 2022; and more than 50 deaths through September this year.
Using his statistics, that means almost 75% of the fatal drug overdoses last year occurred in the county’s largest city. In 2021, the city of Jamestown likely accounted for almost 80% of the county’s fatalities, though county Health Board members were not given exact figures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said overdose deaths remain a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. The majority of overdose deaths, the CDC said, involve opioids.
Deaths involving synthetic opioids — largely the illicitly made fentanyl — and stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine have increased in recent years. In addition, overdose deaths accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, information by Jamestown police indicates more fentanyl has been seized by officers during patrol since January 2022. Seizures of cocaine also have been increasing, while crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine have gone done.
Though some of the toxicology reports have not been returned, Kilburn believes fentanyl is the likely culprit in the latest surge in overdose deaths this year.
“Over half of the deaths this year have occurred within one day of another death,” he told county Health Board members. “When we see the deaths we almost always are looking at fentanyl poisoning. I think often, and maybe nearly always, it’s simply a matter of supply.”
Not all overdoses result in a fatality, however.
Through September, Jamestown officers have responded to 183 suspected overdoses. The city is on pace to smash last year’s total of 197 responses.
In its report, JPD said year-to-date, cases through September have “increased by 81.5% compared to the year-to-date five-year average of 100 cases.”