- Associated Press - Monday, August 28, 2017

FARMINGTON, Conn. (AP) - Accidental drug overdose numbers in Connecticut are on the rise, as homicide numbers are declining.

Chief Medical Examiner James Gill announced Monday that drug overdoses in Connecticut this year are on pace to top last year’s figure by 18 percent. Meanwhile, homicides in 2016 dropped 33 percent, to the lowest total in at least 25 years, in the most recent data available.

Gill said overdose deaths linked to the powerful opioid fentanyl continue to increase in the state, as they have across the country.

There were 539 accidental drug abuse deaths from January through June. The projection for overdose deaths for 2017 is 1,078, which would be an 18 percent increase over last year.

Gill said 322 of the deaths this year were linked to fentanyl. If that rate holds up, there will be 644 fentanyl-related deaths in the state in 2017, a 33 percent increase over last year.

Heroin-related deaths appear to be leveling off, with 514 projected for this year compared with 508 last year. Gill also projects 82 oxycodone-related deaths in 2017, which would be a 25 percent decrease from last year.

Hartford led the state with 41 overdose deaths the first half of the year, followed by 32 deaths in Waterbury, 25 in Bridgeport, 24 in New Britain and 20 in New Haven.

The medical examiner’s office also confirmed 87 deaths as homicides in 2016, a 33 percent drop from 2015. Gill said it was the lowest number of homicides since at least 1990. Homicides by firearms dropped nearly 50 percent to 52 last year.

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