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Mapping an Epidemic: Where Did Overdose Deaths Happen in N.H. Last Year?

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Manchester accounted for nearly a quarter of the fatal drug overdoses reported across New Hampshire last year, according to newly released data from the medical examiner’s office.

The state's largest city saw 106 overdoses last year, out of a statewide total of 433.

Manchester officials have been at the forefront of the public conversation around the opioid crisis. The city's police chief has testified regularly in front of state lawmakers and was recently named to a national drug task force. Other officials and community members have hosted a number of community forums on the issue.

The city's public health director, meanwhile, has taken to personally scouring parks and other public spaces for used syringes. More than 540 were picked up between January and December of 2015.

After Manchester, Nashua was the next-most-frequent site for fatal overdoses, with 37 reported last year. Concord and Rochester followed behind with 14 each.

While the urban centers in southern New Hampshire are seeing far more overdoses than their suburban or rural counterparts, the data does show that drug overdoses are happening — even if infrequently — in all corners of the state.

The numbers depicted in the map above represent the state’s best guess for where someone took the drug that resulted in their fatal overdose, according to the medical examiner. So that doesn’t necessarily mean that 106 Manchester residents died, or that 106 people died in Manchester.

New Hampshire saw more drug overdoses than ever before in 2015, at least 433 in total. That’s a jump of more than 100 from 2014 and more than double the 2013 figure.

As for what’s driving these overdoses, fentanyl — not heroin — was involved in most of the drug deaths counted for 2015. (The state says it’s still waiting for toxicology results on a few more cases from last year.)

See below for more details on the causes behind the state’s drug deaths in recent years.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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