Skip to Content
Local News

New report shows significant increase in El Paso County drug-related deaths

EL PASO COUNTY,  Colo. (KRDO) — A new report from the El Paso County Coroner's Office reveals disturbing trends in drug-related deaths, domestic violence, and youth suicides.

Overall, there was a 43% increase in people dying from drugs in El Paso County in 2020 compared to 2019, a jump from 130 to 186 people.

“It’s not just drugs,” said El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly. “Many categories are up. But drugs had an extraordinary [increase] — the largest increase certainly since I’ve been here.”

Kelly has worked in the coroner’s office since 2008. He says he wasn’t surprised to see a sharp rise in fentanyl deaths, but was taken back by the increase in deaths related to methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. In addition, 40% of drug-related deaths were caused by a combination of substances.

According to data from the El Paso County coroner's annual report:

  • Fentanyl deaths increases from 21 in 2019 to 47 in 2020  
  • Methamphetamine deaths increased from 66 in 2019 to 91 in 2020  
  • Cocaine deaths increased from 20 in 2019 to 30 in 2020  
  • Heroin deaths increased from 35 in 2019 to 43 in 2020  

“As family members, as the users themselves, to reach out and ask for the help you need, because you might not have another opportunity,” said Dr. Kelly.

The Colorado Springs Police Department focuses on drug-related enforcement in its Metro Vice, Narcotics, and Intelligence Division. CSPD investigates every overdose death within its jurisdiction. However, a spokesperson for CSPD says it's not a problem that police can solve alone. That's the same stance taken by the coroner.

"There's no simple solution to a problem like this," said Dr. Kelly. "Obviously there's a law enforcement component. But as every doctor and detective will tell you, we can't arrest our way out of a drug crisis."

The data also indicates youth suicide rates are climbing after showing improvements a few years ago. Suicides among people ages 11 to 17 increased from nine in 2019 to 15 in 2020. That's a 40% increase in youth suicides in one year. But there is hope on the horizon according to the coroner.

"So far this year in 2021, we've seen a dramatic decrease in our local teen suicides at levels I haven't seen on the good end since I've been here," said Kelly.

El Paso County is actively working on youth suicide prevention. You can find local resources here.

Colorado Springs / Investigations / News / Reporter Stories / Video
Author Profile Photo

Lauren Barnas

Lauren is an anchor and MMJ for KRDO and 13 Investigates. Learn more about Lauren here.



  1. Drug related deaths up, suicides up, gang activity, crime,robberies up. Homelessness up. Domestic violence up.thank your government for the lock downs. Gas prices up, cost of food up. Some people needed and used their stimulus money wisely, others used it as a big party hardy fund.

    1. Hey but we allowed some old people to live a few extra months, and probably a million or more old people who died naturally got to spend their dying months in isolation.

      1. And a few hundred thousand younger people died too, including many who had no known medical history that would have killed them. But why would you care?

        1. Let’s put it this way, RealityCheck. I’m in my 50’s and hence have many friends in their 40’s and 60’s as well. In the last couple of years, I’ve had friends die of Pneumonia (from the Flu), dementia/parkinsons, lung cancer, prostrate cancer, suicide and heart attack. I have no friends who even went to the hospital for covid, nor do I know any friends who lost a close friend or relative from this. So when you say a “few hundred thousand younger people”, you are talking 40’s 50’s and 60’s. You are not talking under 40. No way, hundreds of thousands of people under 40 died from this. And if you know ANYTHING about actuarial tables, you know the mortality curve starts to spike up in the 45-49 age groups. Everything about covid follows the normal mortality curve. If I’m going to be scared, it’s from a virus that kills people in their 30’s equally to those in their 60’s,

          1. I was simply suggesting others you didn’t consider to be “old people.”
            You already over-simplified the problem, so don’t try to over-complicate it now.

    2. World history has shown that there’s always an increase in major crimes when there are major conflicts, such as wars that impact places directly. And there are similar or worse increases when there are social restrictions like we had this past year. We hadn’t seen anything like it in this country for a long time until last year. But countries in Europe had comparable increases during WWII, especially when there were blackout restrictions due to air raids, which our country never had.

  2. Just what to expect with a rising number people living in despair in a city of no hope in a state of no hope in a country of no hope.
    Even the children are growing more suicidal in Calofornia which already is number seven on the list of states with most suicide. No doubt in great part do to the degenerate things the radical Marxist democrats are trying to force into their young minds in schools today, they are young and innocent but sense something deeply wrong unfortunately they think it is with them.

        1. @ Colo Boomer troll? Thats some funny shite coming from a wet behind the nose, huggies wearing no experience having, young kid like yourself.

          1. LOL. Easy there, that hysterical low IQ insult filled hissy fit you are having is gonna make you stroke out.
            Better grab your heart pills and lay down, crazy boomer.

      1. It’s always Russia with you people? Please tell me why you hate Russia so much? Should we go to war with them? If Hillary was president I’m sure we would. Russia… Russia.. Russia. Silly RealityCheck. It’s supposed to be Marcia… Marcia.. Marcia. We should watch Brady bunch together again.

    1. there is no future and no escape.
      after trying to survive here, people have no money to flee this “for the elite and the Olympic Shrine entitled” city. They have zero savings after being “FEE-D” to death (to outwit TABOR), but wages are not suitable or compatible in this city.
      If the powers that be want to keep more and more citizens heading toward homelessness, they need to plan and invest. But they would rather spend excess funds trying to get people to pick up dog poop for free, than catching and fining the daylights out of the offender (not easy I realize.), or cleaning up trails which most tourists use for free anyway. WE NEED to foCUS ON OUR CITIZENS

    2. Oh? You mean the life long democrat who voted by mail his entire life named Trump who started this whole stimulus garbage? The guy who was trying to buy votes by handing out 2g around election? That Biden cut down to 1200?
      The guy who cut your party in half to make sure no repub will get elected for quite awhile?

  3. The number one problem with drugs in this country is we have Biden the demented fraud puppet and the radical Marxist Democrats who now occupy our country and have turned America into a sanctuary state.
    They are allowing illegal Invaders whose background is unknown many of who are criminals bringing drugs into the country and the drug cartels which are moving drugs with ease from South of the border into America into our cities.

    1. You manage to mix unrelated terms so much, it’s no wonder your actually so confused.

    2. @COLO So the drug problem was caused by biden? really? just started up huh? and you explain the war on drug how? were you even alive in the 70’s and 80’s? little dude please…..

  4. there is a growing sense of hopelessness and despair in El Paso County and the front range in general.
    If I knew of an easy way to go and not leave my family in a disaster, I would do it.
    but my bigger hope of surviving Colorado springs is my faith in God to sustain us until natural death. I cannot leave here-I’ll die here, my life-saving cancer treatment is completely tied to the local health care system which is keeping me alive every three weeks. I can’t afford to miss a treatment until it stops working. and when it does…without a new life-saving treatment-then God will take me home. I see no future for the upcoming generations here, unless they come from that long line of old dirty money.

  5. All y’all: if it’s so bad here, and you’ve no hope. Leave – especially those who came here in the last few years or months. Or you who came with $300 bucks in your pocket, looking for that MJ haven you thought you’d find, then ran out of $ and are now “homeless”. Go!

  6. What leads to such a high teen suicide rate is social media. Generations ago teens/children would engage in fact-to-face communication and build a stable relationship and learn more about conflict resolution. Nowadays, teens, even children only communicate via text messages and it is difficult to pick up on red flags without that physical interpersonal relationships.

    Secondly, MJ is a “steppingstone” drug. Our society voted for it so now we suffer the consequences.

  7. So the Democrats lower all the penalties for drug crimes, changing many from felonies to misdemeanors, and now drug deaths are spiking? Shocker! Oh well, just goes to show drug abuse is a self correcting problem. One way to thin out the gene pool.

Comments are closed.

Skip to content