Orleans coroner: Opiate-related deaths surpass homicides

Orleans coroner: Opiate-related deaths surpass homicides

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There was alarming news from Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse about the number of opiate overdose deaths.

Rouse presented concerning numbers at a city Criminal Justice Committee meeting Wednesday that show opiate overdose deaths now surpass the number of homicides in New Orleans.

"Opiate overdoses are beating homicides," Rouse said.

According to the coroner, as of May 2016, 65 people have died from heroin or fetanyl-related overdoses compared to 47 homicides. For the entire year of 2015, there were 63 overdoses compared to 164 homicides.

"Now, I am very, very glad that the homicide numbers are down, for sure, but it's my job to alert the public and the powers that be about increasing trends that I see in death, and I shudder to think what these numbers may look like in two to three years," said Rouse.

We checked with Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, who said their numbers are down. There have been 56 opioid-related deaths so far this year compared to 120 last year.

"Our big jump was about three years ago when we almost tripled our deaths, and we've remained stable since then," said Cvitanovich.

Cvitanovich said we may be seeing an increase in New Orleans and a drop in Jefferson Parish because heroin-related deaths are very specific to individual neighborhoods and the dealers who are distributing there.

"It's a buyer beware situation because you don't know what the person selling you is selling you, you know? They're hoping that it's what they expect, but in many cases it's not, and it's a lethal mistake," Cvitanovich said.

Covington Police say due to the alarming number of opioid deaths in the U.S., each one of their officers will now carry Narcan, a medication that can reverse an overdose.

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