About 34 percent of the 843 accidental deaths investigated by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in 2013 were due to drug or medication overdose, according to a new report.
Overdose deaths as a whole — both accidental and intentional — have been increasing since 2011. There were 327 overdose deaths last year, with opiate drugs like heroin, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and morphine accounting for the majority (195) of overdose deaths.
Methamphetamine was the most commonly abused illegal drug, accounting for 78 of the deaths.
The most common age of overdose was among people between 50 and 59 years of age.
The local 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:
• 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 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, visit: http://webcms.pima.gov/government/medical_examiner/