A bill on its way to the governor’s desk will require Indiana’s Health Department to provide an annual report on fatal drug overdoses and suicides.
State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) said she had heard anecdotes about drug deaths and suicides increasing in her largely rural district during the pandemic but had trouble getting county-by-county data from the State Department of Health.
“Sen. Mike Crider (R-Greenfield) worked hard to get more money in the budget for mental health, which includes addiction,” said Leising, the bill's sponsor. “And I thought, ‘We don't even know if they're spending the money in the areas that need the most help.’”
Senate Bill 84 will require the Indiana Department of Health to compile a report each year on the number of fatal overdoses and suicides in each of the state’s 92 counties. The report would detail the method of suicide – if a gun or other weapon was used – or what drug caused the overdose. It would also have to note if the person was a veteran or had a military background.
“I’m an old nurse by profession,” Leising said. “We just gotta make sure that the state dollars – your tax dollars – are going to the right areas that have maybe the most significant need.”
The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on Americans’ mental health, according to federal data. Drug overdose deaths in Indiana jumped to record numbers after the pandemic hit in 2020. Nationwide, fatal drug overdoses spiked 30 percent.