Coroner: Alarming number of 2020 deaths in EBR make for a 'devastating year'
BATON ROUGE - With novel coronavirus impacting the global community on an unprecedented scale, health officials across the world are noting an alarming number of untimely deaths in their local areas.
East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner, William 'Beau' Clark, took to Facebook Thursday morning to note that 2020 has been a "devastating year" for the capital region, with murders outpacing the rate of deaths caused by deadly car crashes.
Dr. Clark said as of September 10, the parish has lost a total of 90 individuals to homicides, 175 to overdoses, approximately 60 to motor vehicle crash deaths, approximately 2,900 to natural deaths, and a total of 30 citizens to suicide.
The numbers reflect a significant increase in these types of deaths since last year.
Dr. Clark explained, "That is more than 30 homicides, more than 100 overdoses, more than 10 motor vehicle crash deaths, more than 900 natural deaths (approximately 425 COVID and 500 more due to other natural causes) compared to this time last year."
On Monday, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and Police Chief Murphy Paul spoke to WBRZ about the shocking number of homicides in the parish.
Both indicated that while measures are being taken to curb crime and violence, there's still much work to be done.
"Since the chief has been in office working with his team, community policing has been working and we have had more incidents where people have reached out to the police to report people that they know, but also to proactively avoid potential situations," Mayor Broome said.
She also noted that in some cases, concerned citizens have taken the initiative to try and reduce crime in their areas by working alongside Baton Rouge Police in their neighborhoods.
The Sherwood Forest Crime Prevention District, for example, has partnered with Baton Rouge Police to prevent crime in their neighborhood.
But Chief Paul admitted that the community continues to struggle with a disturbing homicide rate, saying, "We need to get a better handle on it."
Dr. Clark's post also mentioned an increase in deaths caused by suicide and drug overdose, which some believe may be connected to the pandemic.
Some feel that in addition to the impact of COVID-19 causing sickness and death, the side effects of living in a community that's fighting off novel coronavirus can lead to an increase in depression that triggers either suicide or other actions that can result in untimely death.
The Journal of the American Medical Association posted an April 2020 article suggesting as much, saying that regulations implemented by the government in an attempt to contain the pandemic, along with social distancing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and stress due to job loss may result in far more suicides in the years to come.
For this reason, health officials recommend that people protect their physical and emotional well-being during the coronavirus health crisis by maintaining a daily routine that includes regular exercise, healthy sleeping and eating habits, and limited consumption of alcohol.
Additional tips on how to maintain one's health and safety amid the pandemic can be found on the CDC's website, here.