Caroline Savoie, The Advocate, October 27, 2021
Drug overdose deaths in East Baton Rouge have already surpassed the 2020 record with two months left until the end of the year.
Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark unveiled the grim statistics Wednesday during a presentation at his office attended by bereaved family members of overdose victims.
So far this year, he said the parish has recorded 248 drug deaths. His office recorded 242 in all of 2020.
Clark and his chief investigator, Shane Evans, said they expect the 2021 figure to rise to 300 through December.
Clark said the homicide number hit a new record as well, with 140 this year, surpassing the 136 his office recorded in 2020. Last weekend alone, nearly half a dozen people died in two murder-suicides, one domestic violence murder and a fatal stabbing.
The coroner tracks all deaths resulting from the actions of another person, including accidental deaths and those considered justified by law enforcement, while FBI crime reporting rules limit homicide data to intentional and unjustified killings that meet the legal definitions of murder and manslaughter.
The parish’s first fentanyl overdose death was reported in 2014. From 2014 through 2017, little more than 8% of overdose deaths in the parish involved fentanyl, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
By contrast, Clark said fentanyl was present in 90% of overdose deaths this year. Just 28 of the 248 overdoses were linked to other drugs.