CITY HALL — Opioid overdoses on Staten Island continued to surge in 2018 as overdoses citywide slightly dipped, according to new data from the Health Department released Monday.
Citywide, there were 38 fewer overdoses in 2018 compared to the previous year, but Staten Island experienced a 13% jump in overdoses in 2018, from 90 deaths in 2017 to 102 deaths in 2018.
The drug fentanyl remained the leading cause of fatal overdoses on Staten Island in 2018, rising from 62 fatal fentanyl involved overdoses in 2017 to 78 fatal fentanyl involved overdoses in 2018.
Heroin was the second leading cause of fatal overdoses in the borough in 2018, with the number of deaths increasing by 16%, from 55 heroin-related deaths in 2017 to 64 heroin-related deaths in 2018. Overall, fatal heroin overdoses increased by 64% from 2015 to 2018.
Tottenville saw the highest rate of overdoses in the borough last year, and was among the top five neighborhoods citywide where opioid overdose deaths exceeded the city average.
St. George, followed by Stapleton, were two other Island neighborhoods that saw higher-than-average rates of overdose deaths.
“The decrease in drug overdose deaths is promising, but far too many New Yorkers are still dying,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “We are closely monitoring the trends of the epidemic as they evolve and responding to upticks in emergency department visits and deaths with targeted strategies and community engagement. We remain firmly committed to expanding life-saving services and caring for New Yorkers who use drugs.”
The office of District Attorney Micheal McMahon said that last year a total of 286 people were saved using the opioid reversal drug naloxone.
According to preliminary Health Department data for the first quarter of 2019, of the 331 overdoses citywide, so far, between January to March the Island saw 34 fatal overdoses this year.
McMahon’s office said that to date, it has recorded 102 saves by naloxone this year and 49 overdose deaths.
“The opioid crisis continues to take a tragic toll on the lives of far too many, and 2018 proved that much more work needed to be done on Staten Island and throughout the City before we could declare victory,” McMahon said. “Fortunately, we have seen signs of hope in early 2019 data on Staten Island. There is no doubt that we are still fighting an uphill battle, but we are making significant progress in our mission to save lives. We will continue our tireless work to overcome this scourge together with our partners in the NYPD, community and health providers, and every New Yorker affected by this crisis.”
The 2019 preliminary overdose death numbers are slightly higher than numbers from the Health Department because numbers from the district attorney and NYPD only account for overdoses reported to police. NYPD and district attorney data sets do not include overdoses unreported to law enforcement, or where an individual was brought to a hospital by private means. Because of that discrepancy, as well as any determinations later made by the Medical Examiner’s Office about the cause of death, there can typically be a about a 30% difference between preliminary law enforcement data and final numbers released by the Health Department.
For the second year in a row, fentanyl was the leading cause of fatal overdoses, present in 60% of deaths citywide in 2018, followed by heroin.
The city pointed out that the decrease in opioid overdoses followed investments to HealingNYC, a program aimed at reducing fatal opioid overdoses by 35% over the next five years.
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