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Overdoses are the top killer for ages 25-44 in 2013 in Pa.

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 24, 2015 4:52 AM
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Photo by Lebanon Daily News

(Harrisburg) -- The drug crisis is showing few signs of slowing, and new data reveals its effect on Pennsylvania. In 2013, overdoses killed more people between ages 25 and 44 in the state than anything else.

The numbers are stark.

567 people between 25 and 34 years old died from an overdose in Pennsylvania in 2013.

Among those aged 35 to 44, 502 were killed by an overdose that same year.

The data comes from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, using federal datasets. It's collected through the school's Mortality and Population Data System.

Doctor Jeanine Buchanich put together the information and says overdoses have been the top killer in those age groups for more than a decade.

"That really emphasizes that this is a large public health issue. These deaths are or should be preventable. And so it's telling us that we need to work a lot harder at effective prevention," says Buchanich.

Buchanich says the data doesn't detail what drugs were involved in the overdoses, but estimates heroin and other drugs are to blame for 95 percent of the 2013 deaths.

In total, nearly 2,200 people died from overdoses in Pennsylvania that year. If its assumed each person would have otherwise lived to 75, that results in nearly 75,000 years of life lost.

"The rates are continuing to rise, many age groups, across races and in males and females. I would not anticipate that we're going to see any improvement in overdose deaths for 2014," says Buchanich.

A report on overdoses in 2014 that left out 13 counties still counted nearly 2,500 overdose deaths.

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