Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz announced Wednesday that suicide and homicide deaths have increased 40% from the same period last year, while overdose deaths have gone up by 49%.
“Especially for addiction and for deaths by suicide, there’s opportunity for people to become more aware of their own children, their family, their neighbors and maybe just ask a question: Are you alright?” Ortiz said.
According to preliminary data, the city saw 28 deaths by suicide during the first seven weeks of the year, from January 1-February 21. That's compared to 20 deaths during the same period in 2019.
“The suicide rates have increased in Franklin County,” said John Ackerman, suicide prevention coordinator at Nationwide Children's Hospital. “No age group or demographic is immune to this.”
Ortiz reported that 109 individuals have died from drug overdoses so far in 2020, compared to 73 at the same point last year.
Franklin County has seen a rash of drug overdose deaths in recent weeks. Earlier this month, nearly 30 people died during a 10-day period.
Ortiz said the overdose deaths in Franklin County match national trends, with most deaths occurring in individuals aged 25-54. Caucasian males heavily dominate the death statistics.
Most overdose deaths last year were fentanyl-related, but Ortiz says she saw a number of cocaine-related deaths pass through her morgue. That's a trend she thinks will continue.
“I’m expecting an increase in cocaine and fentanyl this year,” she said. “It helps for folks to be armed with naloxone, fentanyl test strips, to know where to go."
Data from the Coroner's Office shows 21 homicides in the city compared to 15 at the same point last year.
“We are concerned and alarmed by the increase,” said Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan at the event. “Not just the homicides, but we’ve seen in the last year, a 12% increase in felonious assaults.”