COLUMBUS, Ind. — For the third year in a row, Bartholomew County has broken its record for overdose deaths. 

Coroner Clayton Nolting said his office has seen 35 deaths so far this year. That’s up from 33 last year and 31 in 2020.

The last six years of overdose deaths in Bartholomew County:

  • 2017: 30
  • 2018: 17
  • 2019: 24
  • 2020: 31
  • 2021: 33
  • 2022: 35

Nolting says most of those deaths are due to fentanyl.

“It’s frustrating, to say the least,” Nolting said. “It’s many times more potent than heroin and thousands of times more potent than medical grade morphine.”

Nolting said the community has tackled the epidemic head-on, but the numbers show the work is far from over. That’s why he joined a newly formed overdose review team to find out what they’re missing.

“It gives us an opportunity to really look at some of the things that maybe we don’t have here that are needed,” said Julie Miller who is the executive director of Family Services.

Miller started the team in partnership with the coroner and other community groups.

They will analyze overdoses and even suicides to see what happened and how it could be prevented going forward. Miller said that could include starting new programs that may be needed to fill some gaps.

Miller believes what they’re seeing is still left over from the isolation people experienced during the pandemic.

“Humans need connection and relationships and when you’re isolated I think mental health creeps in,” Miller said.

While Nolting is frustrated that they haven’t been able to reduce the numbers, he hopes this new effort could be the change they need. 

“I’d love to have zero,” Nolting said. “That’s going to be very difficult until we can get a grasp on this opioid epidemic.”

While this new team works to figure out new solutions, leaders said there are still plenty of resources people can access if they’re struggling with addiction. You can find some links for information and help here: