Increase in Overdoses Concerning, Suicides Down in 2023 According to Morgan County Coroner

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 5, 2024 at 11:12am

The number of overdoses increased while the number of suicides went down in Morgan County during 2023.

On Wednesday, the Morgan County Coroner’s Office released the final statistics from last year, and while overall there were no changes or unusual trends associated with death counts in Morgan County in 2023, some specific numbers gave both cause for concern, and praise.

In all, there were 376 total deaths reported in Morgan County last year, down from 485 in 2022. Of those, 356 people died due to the top three natural causes of cardiac disease, respiratory disease, and cancer.

Morgan County Coroner Marcy Patterson says the number of deaths due to those top three natural causes is exactly the same as the average she has seen in her more than 13 years affiliated with the Coroner’s office.

Patterson says one statistic that is of concern, is that overdoses in Morgan County have doubled since 2022. “We had eight, and of the eight overdoses we had, one hundred percent of them had fentanyl in their system. And that’s a really scary time for a community because obviously there is no good time for anybody to be doing drugs.

But people aren’t using drugs thinking it’s going to cause them instant death, right? They’re thinking it’s going to be, you know whatever pleasure they get from their drug, and somebody’s mixed something in it that’s killing them. And that’s concerning to all of us as we watch that number rise across this community and the nation.”

Conversely, the number of suicides in Morgan County last year was down one from four to three. Patterson says even though the decrease was small, it still is a big step in the right direction.

We always like it when suicide goes down. That’s something that our office is very passionate about, that one suicide death is too many. For it to go down twenty-five percent is significant in our community.

We were hoping for some of the programs that the community has started, like the S.T.A.R.S. group that works for suicide prevention, and they are doing work that is getting some people some help.”

Patterson says over the last year, mental health is the leading factor that contributes to suicide, while factors such as a person’s age do not. “It doesn’t, we had a young person, we had a senior citizen and we had a middle-aged person so our three deaths were across the board. And the answer is always, see if we can get the correct mental health. Everybody this year that died by suicide was actively treating their health problems- their mental health problems, and we still ended up here. It’s a really sad statistic.”

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention and Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling or texting the number 988.

You can find more information on the Jacksonville area group S.T.A.R.S. for Suicide Prevention by searching for the group on Facebook.