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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Marcie Rosas, the Dunn County and Eau Claire County medical examiner, is concerned about an increase in suicides and drug overdose deaths.
Rosas gave her annual report to the Dunn County Board at the February 20 meeting.
At the current rate, Eau Claire County and Dunn County are on track for a potential of 48 suicide deaths in 2019, and “The age range continues to widen; last year we served families of individuals from 12 to 78 years of age,” according to Rosas’ report.
Last year, there were 24 suicides all together — eight in Dunn County and 16 in Eau Claire County.
Another area of concern for the medical examiner’s office is the increasing numbers of accidental overdose deaths secondary to the opioid crises.
The victims and their families are becoming increasingly diverse, Rosas states in her report.
“The stereotype of a ‘typical’ drug overdose victim no longer exists. Many victims are the beloved adult children of supportive parents who were unable to help them beat their addictions. We are seeing more elderly overdose victims. This epidemic presents a very real and very local threat. Widespread Narcan utilization to reverse potentially deadly effects of drug overdoses has likely saved many lives, some more than once, but more overdose deaths can be anticipated in the near future,” according to the medical examiner’s report.
The presence of substances and paraphernalia associated with illegal drug use also is a concern and continues to pose considerable personal health and safety risks to people working in the medical examiner’s department, the report states.
In addition to Rosas as the chief medical examiner for Dunn County and Eau Claire County and Lynn Johnson, the chief deputy medical examiner for Dunn County and Eau Claire County, the department includes six deputy medical examiners: Joe Gribowski (leave of absence); Shaylee Miracle; Brenda Falk; Mark Pugmire; Serena Krejchi; and Luke Miller (limited term employee).
Last year in Dunn County, there were 306 deaths — 267 were from natural causes; eight were suicides; two were homicides; one was an undetermined cause of death; nine were attributed to a fall; 11 were from motor vehicle accidents; two were overdoses; one was from drowning; and five were from other causes.
All together, there were 28 accidental deaths in Dunn County in 2018.
In Eau Claire County in 2018, there were 1,137 deaths — 1,050 were from natural causes; 16 were suicides; there were no homicides; 40 were attributed to a fall; six were from a motor vehicle accident; 11 were overdose deaths; two were by drowning; and 12 were attributed to other causes.
All together, there were 71 accidental deaths in Eau Claire County in 2018.
Rosas’ report indicates the medical examiner’s office also is becoming more concerned about an increase in homicides.
While Eau Claire County did not have any homicides in 2018, there were two homicides in Dunn County last year.