WILKES-BARRE -- A new report from the Luzerne County coroner paints a grim picture of our area's heroin problem.
The report notes that drug overdoses are becoming so out of control that a record number of people in Luzerne County died from the epidemic last year.
Donald Tonkin of Exeter remembers being so depressed, he tried taking his own life by overdosing on sleeping pills.
“I was so nervous, and I was scared and I was frightened, but I thought if this was going to end my misery of what I was feeling and what I've done in my past, I just prayed to God, 'Please take me,'” he said.
God said no. Donald then got help and went through counseling. He's been sober since 2012.
But a rising number of people living in Luzerne County are not as lucky. The county coroner's office released a report showing 95 people died because of drug overdoses--mostly from heroin--in 2015. That beats the previous record of 70 people from 2013.
Coroner William Lisman predicts this year will break last year's record if the overdose death rate continues to climb like it has in the past several months.
“We will be close to 150 drug deaths in 2016,” he said.
There is a drug that can often reverse drug overdoses called Narcan. But at $40 per use, it's expensive and it sometimes won't work on heroin.
“This is not a Wilkes-Barre issue. This is not a Luzerne County issue. This is an issue all across the United States,” said Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney.
When his crews aren't fighting fires, they're often treating an overdose victim with Narcan. His crews always suggest that the victim goes to a hospital, but the victim doesn't have to. Chief Delaney would like to see that changed.
“Past Narcan, they absolutely need to get into a counseling program so we don't see this repeated again,” he said.
Since the Wilkes-Barre fire department started treating overdose victims with Narcan in January 2015, they've done it more than 230 times.
The fire department likely saved lives, but Narcan is so expensive and there are so many overdoses in Wilkes-Barre, the department says it cannot afford it much longer without more help at a state or federal level.