Fentanyl played a part in 9 of 11 overdose deaths in Hampshire County last year.

Drugs were once again the county’s leading cause of sudden deaths — not brought on by disease or natural causes — in 2020.

By last week the Hampshire County Clerk’s office had recorded 251 deaths for 2020. That’s on par with 2019’s total of 253, but well above the 165 filed by around this time of year for 2018 and 173 for 2017.

Death certificates from 2020 will continue to trickle into the clerk’s office for months, particularly any that required autopsies or come from out-of-state.

A new cause of death, Covid-19, was recorded on 5 certificates filed so far for 2020.

The 2 biggest killers remain heart disease and cancer.

Heart attacks, heart failure, coronary artery disease and related illnesses claimed 73 Hampshire County lives in 2020.

Lung cancer (15) was the leading type of cancers in the county last year. In all, 56 people here died of some form of cancer.

Sudden deaths came to 26 people — 11 from overdoses, 8 from traffic or ATV accidents, 3 by falling, 2 suicides and 1 each of murder, drowning and exposure.

The OD victims ranged in age from 28 to 56. Nearly all occurred in their own homes.

Fentanyl can kill within minutes, before emergency responders can arrive and inject Narcan, an antidote for opiates. Merely touching the synthetic drug can result in death.

The vehicle accidents included a pair on ATVs in the spring and a motorcycle accident.

Two of the people who died after falling were women in their 90s. The 3rd was a man in his 50s who the death certificate noted had a history of chronic alcohol abuse.

Other causes of death included 21 from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), 6 by strokes, 19 from the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease,

Nine people were listed as having died of natural causes.

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