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Monroe County Sheriff's Office

 

Nearly 200 people died from opioid overdoses in Monroe County last year, according to data released Monday by the county medical examiner’s office.

That’s the first decrease since 2015, but it’s still 17 times as many overdose deaths as the county had in 2011, when it first started tracking the data.

Monroe County public health commissioner Michael Mendoza said one of the primary reasons for last year’s decline was likely the prevalence of overdose reversal drugs like naloxone, which is sold under the brand name Narcan.

Drug Enforcement Administration

October saw the most opioid overdoses in Monroe County since the sheriff’s heroin task force started keeping track in January.

It was also the second-most-deadly month for people who overdosed, with 17 fatalities in the county, the sheriff’s data showed.

The oldest overdose victim was 65, according to the county’s data. The youngest was 17. There were 116 overdoses total.

“I cried. I just cried,” said Becky Baker, describing her reaction when she saw the latest data.

Baker shares her phone number with people addicted to opioids and their families. She tells them to call if they want help finding a slot in a treatment program.

Now, she says, she gets as many calls about deaths as she does about treatment.

“My phone has not stopped. The funerals keep coming,” Baker said. “I keep getting messages that ‘did you know so-and-so-has lost their life?’ It’s gut-wrenching. It’s heart-breaking. Our grief group keeps growing and growing.”

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Today, Chacku Mathai is the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Rochester.

But at 15, he wanted to die.

Describing himself as an immigrant kid with dark skin in a largely white neighborhood, he said he felt misunderstood and targeted at school. He attempted suicide by overdosing on alcohol and other drugs.