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  • Medical Examiner reports increase in overdose deaths

    Apr 03, 2014 | Read More News
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    Accidental overdose continues to take more lives than motor vehicles crashes in Pima County, according to a new report.none

    About 34 percent of the 843 accidental deaths investigated by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner last fiscal year were due to drug or medication overdose, with motor vehicle accidents accounting for 23 percent.

    Overdose deaths as a whole rose in 2013 to 327, up from 314 the year previous and 277 in 2011. Although prescription drugs continue to be a factor in the majority of the deaths, methamphetamine was the largest source of overdoses in 2013, accounting for 78 of the deaths.

    The Office of the Medical Examiner investigates any death in Pima County – and many in eight other Arizona counties – that is sudden, violent, unexpected, or in which the cause of death is unknown. In all, the office conducted nearly 1,500 autopsies last year.

    Among the other highlights in the 2013 annual report:

    • Organ and Tissue Donation. By partnering with Donor Network of Arizona, the Office saved 46 lives in 2013, with 48 organs transplanted. Additionally, 268 corneas were recovered, fully 15 percent of all corneas recovered in Arizona.
    • Gender Disparities. Men are victims of homicide and suicide far more often than women. Men accounted for roughly 80 percent of the 123 homicides and 270 suicides investigated last year. For homicides, the victims most at risk are men between 20 and 29, while suicide victims were more likely to be between 30 and 39.
    • Firearms. The weapons were used in 62 percent of homicides and 53 percent of suicides.
    • Undocumented migrant deaths. There were 168 deaths in 2013, compared to the record high in 2010 of 223 deaths. Since 2001, the Office has received more than 2,200 remains of suspected undocumented border crossers. More than 740 decedents examined by the Office since 2001 remain unidentified, primarily as a result of postmortem changes and a lack of identifying information.

    The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner is the only accredited office in Arizona and one of 75 across the United States.

    To read the report in its entirety, please visit: