Heat map shows location of Monmouth County drug overdose deaths
Talk about a depressing visual aid.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, with help from the State Police's Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, posted a map on Facebook that indicates where the county's 160-plus fatal drug overdoses occurred in 2016.
Five spots shine the brightest, for a bad reason: Aberdeen-Matawan, Eatontown, Keansburg, Long Branch and Neptune.
According to separate data provided to New Jersey 101.5, at least 15 overdose deaths occurred in Neptune City and Neptune last year. Another 14 happened in Keansburg, and Long Branch saw 11.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Grammicioni said while most of these victims are county residents, their town of death does not necessarily correlate to the town in which they lived.
It also doesn't absolutely mean that's where the narcotics were purchased or ingested, he said.
"It's just really difficult to figure this out, especially when somebody passes away," Grammicioni said. "We don't have the benefit of interviewing them and saying, 'Where did you consume, where did you get the drugs from?'"
Grammicioni noted drug transactions are occurring not only in urban and coastal areas, but in the suburbs and inland as well.
Manalapan and Marlboro accounted for 11 fatal overdoses in 2016. Another seven occurred in Freehold Boro and Township.
"My goal is to be able to reinforce what an epidemic this is and convince people this could be happening to friends, family or neighbors of yours," Grammicioni said. "This isn’t an isolated problem."
As of Tuesday, the county cited 164 overdose deaths in 2016, but that number can grow based on autopsy reports that have yet to be finalized.
Other maps released by county authorities, which you can find below, pins the location of each deployment of the lifesaving opioid antidote Narcan in 2016 and 2017. Clusters are seen in similar areas of the county.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.