Jacksonville’s homicide rate gets all the press. Yet the rate of deaths via drug overdose exceeds it. And a prominent city councilman wants action.
An email from Duval County’s Medical Examiner’s office laid it out: from the beginning of January until mid-November, Jacksonville experienced 345 drug overdose deaths.
In terms of casualties, whites and males are the most vulnerable, dying in numbers outsized compared to their proportion of the population.
Of the 345 deaths, 214 decedents were male. And 299 — or 86.67 percent — are white.
Almost 30 percent of those who perished during the period of tabulation were in their thirties. People in their fifties comprised another 23 percent of those who passed on.
One prominent council member, Bill Gulliford, wants movement from the legislative body this year on stemming the tide of casualties.
Gulliford noted that “it is a scary number especially when you compare it to homicides which get all the media attention. And, how many of the homicides are drug related? My executive assistant is trying to secure that information from the sheriff’s office. If we combine the two it gets even scarier.”
“We should be shouting these numbers from the rooftops folks. This is an epidemic and yet the attention is limited. I think bringing attention to this should be the number one priority of the Public Safety Committee in 2017. Attention is just the first step. Maybe bringing attention to the numbers alone will help scare some young people to avoid drugs,” Gulliford noted.
Will Jacksonville get a handle on a problem common to all major cities, one becoming more common all the time? Time will tell. But Bill Gulliford will ensure an effort is made.