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42 Suspected Overdose Deaths in Knox County during August

KNOXVILLE - Knox County prosecutors estimate the county saw 42 suspected overdose deaths in August.

It's the deadliest month so far this year.

It puts the county at a total of 222 suspected deaths for the year, two less than in all of 2016.

Thursday, August’s final day, marked International Overdose Day.

Tennessee Overdose Prevention and other groups hosted an event at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville.

Former addicts, police, prosecutors and resource workers gathered to speak and offer help.

Elliott Jenkins of Knoxville came honor loved ones she’s lost to overdoses.

“It’s a different kind of death, a different kind of tragedy,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins struggled with addiction for eight years. She’s been clean since April 2014. Now, she feels it’s her duty to help others who struggled like her.

When Jenkins heard the number of suspected overdose deaths for August, she shook her head.

“I thought it was bad when I was out there, and I just can’t believe it continues to get worse,” Jenkins said. “It just breaks my heart, and I count my blessings because that could have been me.”

Others feel the same. Jason Goodman, a former addict of 20 years, has been clean since February 2015. He works for the Metro Drug Coalition.

“So what we’re hoping to do here today is honor those that have passed by making a way for people to cultivate healthy relationships,” Goodman said.

Goodman said he thinks his relationship with his children helped save them from going down a similar path.

“I’ve been able to talk to the closest people in my life about the consequences of my use and being open with them, and that stuff coming into their life and then choosing to go in a different direction hopefully as a result of something I’ve planted in their life,” Goodman said.

Knox Count Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Irvine, Jr., came to speak at the event. He said it’s not enough to just prosecute the drug dealers. He said they sometimes prosecute drug users, but said there are other options for drug users, like treatment centers.

“It’s important to have awareness like this event so people learn about it, we have treatment centers,” Irvine said.

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