Child drug, fentanyl deaths increase in latest report, state says

TOPEKA, Kan. (KCTV) – Kansas recorded an increase in the number of drug-related deaths in children age 0-17 in the State Child Death Review Board’s latest release this week.

The board’s newly-released annual report analyzes the deaths of Kansas children from birth through 17 years old. The newest report features information relating to the calendar year 2020, the most recent year for which data is available. According to the report, the number of drug-related deaths rose to 16 in 2020 up from five in 2019.

There were 11 fentanyl deaths in 2020, after no fentanyl deaths were reported in the previous four years. Across the state line, community members have seen multiple students impacted by fentanyl poisonings.

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“Within the three decades that the State Child Death Review Board has been in existence, more than 12,000 deaths of Kansas children have been examined,” said Sara Hortenstine, the board’s executive director, in a release from the office of the Kansas Attorney General. β€œThe stories of these tragic losses have turned into data aimed at informing and direct prevention in our state. There is an immediate need in our state to ensure that youth and their families know that fentanyl-laced products are accessible and that even a one-time experiment with a drug can be deadly.”

In total, the report indicated Kansas had 365 child fatalities in 2020, compared to 362 in 2019. The overall child death rate and the number of suicides among Kansas youth decreased, continuing a downward trend in both categories.

Research found that of the 26 youth suicides in Kansas in 2020, 85 percent of them were male and 15 percent were female.

“The increase in drug overdose and the continued loss of our youth by suicide are blunt reminders that we have much more work to do in Kansas to ensure the wellbeing of our children,” said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

The full report can be found here.


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