Skip to main content

County Services           How Do I?     

Whole Health Releases 5-Year Unintentional Fatal Overdose Data

(ITHACA, NY, March 19, 2024) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) has published data on Unintentional Fatal Overdoses (2019-2023) in order to demonstrate trends and provide relevant demographic information about those who died from drug overdose during the last five years.

Medical Examiner records identify an unintentional fatal overdose as an immediate cause of death. In an effort to de-identify data and maintain confidentiality of the individuals involved, a five-year span of data (2019-2023) is being used. The five-year span includes a sample size of 100 individuals who unintentionally fatally overdosed. A larger sample size allows greater confidence in how the data is interpreted than a single year’s data would allow.

“Unintentional Fatal Overdose” data is a subset of all “Drug Related Deaths” in Tompkins County, which lists all deaths in which drugs are involved. “Drug Related Deaths” data is a subset of the “Opioid Overdose Death Rate” which includes intentional fatal overdose. This distinction is meant to demonstrate the number of deaths by overdose which were ruled accidental, often as a result of unintended circumstances of the drug used, such as tainted drugs and level of tolerance.

The charts available on the Tompkins County Whole Health website show the total yearly deaths, 2019-2023, the months in which deaths occurred, and include the following demographics:

  • Age
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Education Level
  • Location of death
  • Occupational status
  • Marital status
  • Veteran status
  • Hospitalized within 2 months prior to death

Moving forward, this dataset will be updated annually and will serve as a companion to other overdose related data points, such as calls to 911 for overdose emergency and updates from the NYSDOH Opioid Quarterly Reports.

Whole Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “Our goal is to help the community better understand the ongoing overdose crisis, potential solutions, and opportunities for more targeted interventions. Of the 100 deaths described in this dataset, tragically, all were determined to be accidental. We know that nearly all illicit street drugs are tainted with deadly compounds like fentanyl or xylazine, making it riskier than ever to use. If you use illicit street drugs, take precautions – test your supply and never use alone. Carrying life-saving naloxone (Narcan), being trained in its use and feeling confident in using it in a suspected overdose is an essential step we can all take in order to help prevent an overdose.”

For steps on how to reduce the risk of opioid overdose and information about testing drugs, visit:

For resources and supply of Naloxone and fentanyl or xylazine testing strips, visit:

For substance use and mental health resources, visit:

Tompkins County Whole Health envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,