Robeson Co. sheriff says overdose deaths, calls so far this year have passed last year’s total

State - Regional

Courtesy: Robeson County Sheriff’s Office

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WBTW) – Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins released data for overdose deaths and calls so far this year, saying the numbers for both have already surpassed last year’s total numbers.

From January 1 through May 4, there were 20 confirmed overdose deaths and two deaths pending autopsies.

Thirteen (13) of these deaths were reported in people identified as Native American, seven cases were in those identified as White, one case was in a person identified as African American and one case was in a person identified as Hispanic.

Of these deaths, 14 were men and eight were women.

One death was in a person between the ages of 15 and 19. Eight deaths were in people aged 20-29. Eleven (11) deaths were in those aged 30-39. There were two deaths in those above the age of 40.

The data released by Sheriff Wilkins also says Narcan was used 22 times between Jan. 1 and May 4: 18 uses were in men and four were in women. Narcan was used 12 times on people between the ages of 20-29, one time on a person between the ages of 30-39, and five times on people above 40 years old. There were 4 cases with no age listed.

Sheriff Wilkins also says the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 186 calls for service regarding overdoses so far this year, 62 of which were during the month of April.

“Some have been quick to place blame for the uptick of drug overdoses on law enforcement, COVID-19, stimulus checks, first of the month and so on. It’s simple, the decision to use illicit drugs falls on the user. What happens to the brain once that occurs is for the experts to determine,” Sheriff Wilkins said in a Facebook post. “The decision to sell drugs falls on the dealer and many of these deaths fall at their hands. Bad choices can lead to bad outcomes. At some point everyone reading this has had some educational experience in a classroom setting or elsewhere regarding what drugs can do to you. The “Just Say No” campaigns, drug displays and dangers of use brochures, the DARE program, the before and after photos of people addicted to drugs etc. Many bow to peer pressure and that is unfortunate.”

“It’s got to stop and it begins with us all. Not blaming but helping. Rather than type on a keyboard what we should have done or should do or videoing someone in distress, join in and offer a hand of assistance,” Sheriff Wilkins continued. “Volunteer your services at one of many locations that help others. Stop and speak to an apparent person in need and offer a meal, a bible or a ride to church.”

Sheriff Wilkins added that Narcan isn’t a budgeted item for the sheriff’s office, saying “we have been fortunate to have had a supply given to us” and “some see it as an enabler to the addicted but I see it as a lifesaver as we never give up.”

The sheriff’s office will continue to work with the district attorney’s office, Southeastern health and others.

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