Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Opioid Obituary Map

One of the biggest health crisis in the United States is the current opioid epidemic. In fact more people are now killed by drug overdoses than from gun homicides and car accidents.

An ESRI Story Map is attempting to highlight and personalize the current prescription drug and heroin epidemic by providing a way for families to share their memories of loved ones who have died from the epidemic. Celebrating Lost Loved Ones allows anyone to add photographs and memories of an opioid overdose victim to the map.

The map was created by ESRI software developer Jeremiah Lindemann, who lost his own brother to the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. You can read more about the map in Jeremiah's blog post Mapping the Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic, in which he also links to a few other maps concerned with the current epidemic.

You can see from the screenshot of the map at the top of this post that more people have added obituaries to the map in the north-east of the USA than in any other part of the country. This isn't just a coincidence. According to the New York Times the epidemic "has hit particularly hard in New England and in parts of Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Those are the places where fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, started to flood into the heroin supply five to 10 years ago."

Yesterday the NYT released an interactive report called Just How Bad Is the Drug Overdose Epidemic?. This report includes an interactive choropleth map showing the percentage of deaths caused by drug overdoses in 15 to 44 year-olds in each U.S. county. The map clearly reveals the higher than average number of drug overdose deaths in the north-east.

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