Reporters Kevin Bersett and Jacqueline Lee in January started to investigate a large number of overdose deaths in the metro-east. They compiled the statistics in this series based on a public records review of the 357 confirmed overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010 in St. Clair and Madison counties.
The 357 victims included any in which: the lethal toxicity of a drug, or a combination of drugs, were listed in the cause of death; the manner of death was an accident, suicide, homicide, natural or undetermined; a medical condition was listed along with drugs that caused the death; "polypharmacy overdose," or a mix of alcohol, prescription or street drugs, was listed as the cause of death.
Additionally, toxicology tests were reviewed to determine when a specific drug was involved in a death. Coroners' reports frequently listed "polypharmacy overdose" as the cause of death without elaboration as to which drugs were involved.