POINT PLEASANT — President Barack Obama is visiting the Mountain State on Wednesday to talk about the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, something Mason County knows all too well.
When someone dies in Mason County, their death certificate is filed in the county clerk’s office and is public record. In 2014, the Point Pleasant Register estimates around 332 death certificates were filed in the Mason County Clerk’s Office. Of these death certificates, 12 were determined to be drug overdoses, according to the listing on the certificate under cause of death.
So far, three death certificates listing the cause of death as drug overdose have been filed in Mason County in 2015.
Of the overdose deaths in 2014, and so far in 2015, eight were determined to be related to heroin and had specific mention of “heroin” on the death certificate. If heroin wasn’t the cause of death, some certificates listed opioids, or pain relievers, as the culprit which lead to overdose.
The reader should note, there could be more overdose deaths that haven’t been reported yet due to processing of medical testing. This can sometimes significantly delay the filing of the death certificate.
Overdose deaths are also touching every corner of Mason County. In 2014 and so far in 2015, those who died from drug overdose deaths had addresses in Gallipolis Ferry, Point Pleasant, Apple Grove, Mason, Leon and even in Bidwell, Ohio. When it came to the ages of those who died from drug overdoses in Mason County in 2014 and thus far in 2015, they ranged from 21-62 with the average age being 42.
According to a study done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, West Virginia leads the nation in having the highest rate of drug overdose deaths. In fact, that rate is more than twice the national average.
According to the study, deaths from drug overdoses range dramatically by state and were nearly nine times higher in West Virginia (33.5 percent) compared to the lowest rate of 2.6 percent in North Dakota (based on an average of three-year data from 2011 to 2013). West Virginia’s rate increased from 20.3 per 100,000 people in 2007-09 to 33.5 percent in 2011-13, a 65 percent increase.
Five states had rates exceeding 20 deaths per 100,000 people. Kentucky (24.6), Nevada (21.6), New Mexico (24.6),Utah (21.5), West Virginia (33.5).
From 2009-13, drug overdoses surpassed traffic-related crashes as the leading cause of injury death in the United States.
Assistance for this article provided by the staff of Mason County Clerk Diana Cromley.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.