Preliminary information shows increase in some unnatural deaths

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

With about a month left in the year, cases worked by the Pearl River County Coroner’s office appear to be up slightly from the previous year.
The following statistics are still preliminary, since a number of cases are still under investigation.
So far this year, Coroner Derek Turnage and his deputy coroners have worked nine cases of suicides, seven homicides and a number of accidental deaths. These figures do not include deaths associated with natural causes.
Turnage said that according to his records so far this year, six of the suicide cases involved the use of a firearm while the remaining three involved self-hanging.
But, there are still 10 cases being investigated that could potentially be ruled as a suicide, including the case of the remains found on Monday off Sycamore Road. In comparison, Turnage said that a preliminary search of his records shows there were 18 suicides in 2015.
Turnage said investigating cases that could be ruled as a suicide can be tricky. At times evidence that may point to the death being self-inflicted may ultimately be ruled as accidental.
Some of the cases ruled as an accidental death involved the use of illegal drugs or common household items. Turnage said one accidental death involved an individual inhaling keyboard cleaner. A majority of the deaths listed as accidental involved drug toxicity or drug overdoses. Heroin has been listed as one of the substances responsible in at least one death.
The number of homicides appears to be up this year as well. Compared to 2015’s three homicides, to date this year there have been seven. Of those cases one involved a stabbing, five died from gunshots and another died after being struck in the head by a baseball bat. Turnage said a case of a murder-suicide contributed to two statistics.
The highest profile homicide case could arguably be the shoot out that occurred at a gun store in the Henleyfield community in January this year, where four people were injured, two of which died. No updates are available on that case at press time.

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