How we did it
This Sunday Gazette-Mail/West Virginia Public Radio joint investigation of overdose deaths started as an investigation into something else entirely.
Reporter Tara Tuckwiller was digging through federal
documents, looking for methadone death numbers. Tuckwiller and Finn had
written an investigative series, “The Killer Cure,” about methadone overdose deaths.
In the process, Tuckwiller
unearthed a startling statistic: In 2004, for the first time, more Americans were killed by
poisonings — mostly drug overdoses — than guns.
Finn contacted the federal
epidemiologist who had charted the statistic and found out that researchers were just as startled.
Tuckwiller and Finn collected, analyzed and graphed further source data from the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office. The results are presented in this report and in the companion reports on West Virginia Public Radio, at wvpubcast.org and wvgazette.com.