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Medical examiner for La Crosse County kept busy with rising overdose and suicide cases

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The La Crosse County medical examiner has been fairly busy the last few years, having to investigate deaths from COVID, along with overdoses, murders and suicides.

Tim Candahl reported to a La Crosse County Board committee Tuesday that 16 overdose deaths have occurred so far in 2022, which is a record pace this early in the year.

Of those 16, three have been confirmed to be fentanyl related. The examiners office is waiting for confirmation on nine other cases.

Candahl also reported there were 25 suicides in the county last year, up almost 50 percent from 2020.

Candahl said it’s not certain how much the pandemic might have affected people’s mental health.

“Hard to figure out the mental health issue that we have in La Crosse County, or nationwide,” he said. “Very hard to put a number or a statistic, why that happens.”

Candahl told county leaders that an increase in staffing has helped his office better deal with the workload.

The county is two years removed from a record 39 overdose deaths in 2020. Last year there were 31 — 26 related to fentanyl. Most of those were related to fentanyl.

Candahl said the overdose rate is alarming when they’re already halfway to the total from last year, but only a third of the way through 2022.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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