Herald Times on 12/17/2017 by Laura Lane
Forty-eight people died in Monroe County from accidental heroin and opioid overdoses in the past two and a half years.
Thirty-five happened over two years.
Sixteen in 2015.
Nineteen in 2016.
During the first six months of 2017, opioid overdoses claimed the lives of another 13 people in Monroe County. And more have died since. The drugs’ death toll this year is on pace to eclipse each of the previous two years.
Heroin and other opioid-based drugs have been linked to suicides during that time as well. And in August of 2016, 26-year-old Brittany Seabrook Sater’s life came to a violent end over heroin after she was shot with an assault rifle during a drug robbery at her duplex.
This addiction has crippled the country, and it exists in every city and town. Lives are lost; families are left grieving, wondering, forever changed.
Bloomington and Monroe County this past week joined dozens of cities and states across the country in the filing of legal claims against drug manufacturers who peddle opioids. They should be held accountable, the lawsuits say, for the widespread distribution of the drugs feeding addicts’ destructive and deadly habits. Some turn to heroin or synthetic opioids purchased over the internet when the pills run out.
Herald-Times reporters Abby Tonsing and Laura Lane spent time getting to know and interviewing family members and loved ones of 11 of the 35 people lost to the opioid epidemic in 2015 and 2016. The other families were contacted, and either did not respond or said they did not want to be interviewed.
A newspaper editor whose 35-year-old daughter died in Bloomington in the summer of 2015 of an overdose of fentanyl and olanzapine considered telling her story, but declined in the end. “The journalist in me wants to write her story myself, and my pastor says it could be cathartic. The mom in me wants to let her tortured soul rest in peace,” she said. “What I really want is a few more tries to say, “Dammit, you gotta stop this mess!”
The stories in today’s Herald-Times special report on opioid addiction and the devastation that results call those who have died by their first names because it’s how family members referred to them during in-depth interviews about their lives, and their deaths. Durrel, Patty, John, Kevin, Dominique, Kelly, Jessica, Parker, Ashley, Phil, Alex.
Sources are identified by their last names, according to newspaper style rules.
Jennifer Tafoya talked about her stepdaughter Dominique, hoping others hear her story, praying it will turn someone away from heroin.
“It seems like everyone is touched by this in some way or another,” the Greene County woman said. “The only thing I have found to be similar among all the sad stories I know and have heard about heroin is that the person was looking for a way to make the pain inside go away.
“They just wanted to stop hurting.”
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