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Heroin Crisis Causes 195 Deaths in Cuyahoga County During 2013


Media contact:
Christopher Harris: (216) 443-7157 or cbharris@cuyahogacounty.us
Rich Luchette: (216) 797-0931 or rluchette@cuyahogacounty.us

Growth rate in fatalities slows after County implements preventive measures

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas P. Gilson today announced that 195 heroin-related overdose deaths occurred in the County in 2013.

“Like so many partners working in the field, it was my hope that 2013 would see the number of heroin fatalities decrease, but that was not the case,” said Dr. Gilson. “It is encouraging to see that the rate of rise of heroin deaths did drop compared to the previous year but measuring mortality that did not happen is not possible. However, the most telling fact that things are changing comes from Project DAWN, the Naloxone distribution program started by the MetroHealth Medical Center, with significant support from County Executive Ed FitzGerald.”

Gilson credits FitzGerald for putting in place Naloxone distribution centers that reportedly reversed 31 possible overdoses. FitzGerald also instituted the Cuyahoga County Drug DropBox Program and directed the Sheriff’s Department to crack down on suspected heroin dealers. Additional improvements at the County level include more aggressive prosecutions by the County Prosecutor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office; the creation of the heroin death review committee and the heroin community taskforce; the hosting of the Heroin Summit in November at Cleveland Clinic; and many other ongoing efforts.

“This urgent public health crisis is impacting families in communities across Cuyahoga County and throughout Ohio,” added FitzGerald. “I applaud Dr. Gilson for his work to stem the growth of this problem. Cuyahoga County is going to continue leading the charge to end this public health threat.”

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office releases the final 2013 end of year* statistical report for Medical Examiner-ruled heroin-related deaths** in Cuyahoga County, with the following notations:

*NOTE 1: Cases ruled as of March 4, 2014 for cases between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.
**NOTE 2: “Heroin-related deaths” means that heroin or the proper combination of metabolites were present and were a direct or supporting cause of the ruled death.

Medical Examiner-ruled heroin-related deaths** for 2013(through March 4, 2014)
  • 195 ruled cases in Cuyahoga County. 52 ruled cases were female, 143 male.
  • 26.67% of heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County are female, the highest percentage recorded thus far.
  • 85.64% of heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County are white.
  • 97 heroin-related deaths were residents of the City of Cleveland, or 49.74% and 75 resided in suburban communities and 23 are from out of county but whose deaths were recorded here in Cuyahoga County, totaling 50.26%.
  • 48 of heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County were aged 19-29 or 24.62%, the lowest percentage since 2008.
  • Projections for 2013 were for 200 deaths related to heroin.

 Heroin-Related Deaths
 2012 161 39 24.22% 42.86% 25.47%
2011 107 25 23.36% 48.60% 25.23%
2010 90 17 18.89% 45.56% 28.89%
2009 64 16 25.0% 40.63% 26.56%
2008 64 17 26.52% 43.75% 18.75%
2007 40 6 15.0% 42.5% 7.50%

Any questions regarding the final statistical numbers regarding medical examiner-ruled heroin-related deaths to date for 2013 should be referred directly to Thomas P. Gilson, M.D., Medical Examiner of Cuyahoga County. Heroin data and resource links are posted at http://medicalexaminer.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/CC-HeroinInitiative.aspx with regular updates.

Annual statistical data reports from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office are available on-line at http://medicalexaminer.cuyahogacounty.us/.

Members of the media who wish additional medical examiner’s statistical reports, must make such requests pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 313.10 to: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office, 11001 Cedar Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106 or via email at cbharris@cuyahogacounty.us.