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Hamilton County News

Posted on: August 23, 2021

Fatality Review Team Works to Prevent Overdose and Suicide Deaths

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Multidisciplinary Team Meets Monthly to Consider Program & Policy Recommendations
 
(NOBLESVILLE, AUGUST 23, 2021)

Nearly 20-percent of the overdoses reported in Hamilton County end in a fatality. So far this year, 54 residents have lost their lives to an accidental overdose, but a team of experts is working to reverse that trend.

Hamilton County has assembled a Suicide and Overdose Fatality Review Team that meets once a month to review the life and death of recent decedents. The multidisciplinary team consists of representatives from public health, public safety, the courts, the Coroner’s Office, and local treatment facilities.

“We look at the decedent’s life cycle in terms of drug use, major health events, social-emotional trauma, encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and treatment history to facilitate a deeper understanding of what happened,” says Monica Greer, the executive director of the county’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs. “Where were the gaps? Where were the missed opportunities for prevention and intervention that could have saved this person?”

Jim Ginder with the Hamilton County Health Department also conducts psychological autopsies on many suicide and overdose decedents; interviewing family and friends in an effort to better understand their history of substance use disorder, any trauma that may have impacted it, and any barriers to recovery.

“We believe overdose and suicide deaths can be prevented, so we take this very personally,” Ginder says. “The more we know about the decedent and their journey, the better we can begin to see patterns of need and opportunity, not only within specific agencies but across systems. This input helps us to develop program and policy recommendations, to improve collaboration between agencies, and to ultimately prevent future overdose deaths.”

Hamilton County is one of only 22 counties in the state with a Suicide and Overdose Fatality Review Team. If you would like to learn more about the Hamilton County review team, feel free to contact the coordinator, Sarah Richardson, sarahrichardsonlmhc@gmail.com. If you or a loved one needs mental health and/or substance use disorder services, consider calling the Community Services Directory at 211 or visiting them online at www.211.org. You can also find a service provider in your area at https://www.recoveryassistplatform.com.

 

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