Record Setting Levels of Suicide and Drug Overdose Plague San Diego

Deaths due to suicide and prescription drug overdoses, as well as homicides, have reached record numbers in San Diego for the second year in a row. The San Diego County Medical Examiner released an Annual report for 2012 stating the detailed trends showing the increase. Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas stated, “Our office investigates every non-natural death in San Diego, and, tragically, many of these deaths are preventable. The report reveals some of the serious issues and behaviors affecting San Diego County residents and visitors.” In 2012, close to half of the approximated 20,000 total deaths in the county, a total of 10,018 deaths, were reported to the San Diego County Medical Examiner. Of those 10,018, the office further investigated 2,853 deaths, performed 1,962 autopsies, and 901 external examinations. Only about five percent of the deaths investigated are by natural causes, leaving the other ninety-five percent to non-natural causes, such as homicide, accident, and suicide cases. The breakdown of death classification in 2012 was 44 percent accident cases, 36 percent natural deaths, 15 percent suicides, and 4.6 percent homicides. In comparison to past annual reports, this is a record number of people succumbed to suicide and fatal prescription-drug overdoses in the San Diego area. No cause of death could be determined in 1 percent of cases. The report concluded that Methamphetamine continues to be the number one cause of drug related death, with Heroin following close behind. It also stated that of drivers killed in car accidents, a startling 43 percent were DUI cases and the leading cause of natural death remains cardiovascular disease.

The Medical Examiner’s Office recommended the following resources for those individuals at risk for suicide or drug overdose.

– County Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Line: (888) 724-7240
– Suicide Prevention and Awareness information: up2sd.org
– 211 telephone service: offering referrals to numerous individual and group assistance programs
Sources:

“Suicides, Drug Overdoses Hit Record Levels”– Patch News Report, July 24, 2013
“Suicides, Drug Overdoses Hit Record Highs”– San Diego News 6, July 24, 2013
“Suicides, Drug Overdoses at Record Levels”– Fox 5 News, July 24, 2013