HAUPPAUGE - A new state report shows that Suffolk County recorded more fatal heroin overdoses of any other county in the state.
The state's Opioid Poisoning Overdose and Prevention Report found that between 2009 and 2013, 337 people died of heroin overdoses in Suffolk. The Bronx came in at No. 2, with 121 less fatalities than Suffolk.
Nassau County ranked sixth, with 128 heroin-related deaths in that period.
In the two years after those that the report studied, the numbers in Suffolk remained staggering. There were 109 heroin-related deaths in 2014 and 103 in 2015.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if that doesn't spell epidemic, I don't know what does," says state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport.) "It really doesn't matter where they're from, from Northport to Brentwood, children are dying from heroin overdoses."
Raia and Suffolk Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport) are among those proposing a slew of changes in light of the tragic numbers. Raia says the state must make more inpatient treatment beds available in Suffolk immediately.
"I'm calling on the governor to repurpose Pilgrim Psych Center, as well as Sagamore Children's Psych Center. These facilities are only operating at a quarter percent at best," he says.
Legislator Spencer, who is also a medical doctor, says fellow lawmakers and the public must remain committed to keeping young people happy and healthy. "We must change the culture that leads to depression, that leads to seeking the drugs to begin with," he says.