A local official indicated that the death of a student at Selma High School on Tuesday might have been linked to fentanyl. 

On the same day the 16-year-old male student died at the school, at least three others were sent to the emergency room.

An official from Selma City Schools said Tuesday that the system is unsure about whether the incidents are all related and that they are waiting for toxicology reports to determine the cause of death. The student’s body will be taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to determine the cause and manner of death.

Nevertheless, Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson indicated to the press that the student’s death likely had something to do with fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is as much as 100 times stronger than morphine. Though some fentanyl is produced by pharmaceutical companies, illicit fentanyl is sometimes cut into other drugs like cocaine and heroin or added to pills.

According to the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA), fentanyl overdose deaths in Alabama rose 136% between 2020 and 2021. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents have seized more than 10 million fentanyl pills around the country between May and September. 

Opioid overdoses topped the list of leading causes of death in the United States, surpassing vehicular-related deaths, in 2019.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 564,000 people died from opioid overdose between 1999 and 2020. One hundred eighty-seven people die every day from an opioid overdose. Forty-four people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids. 

Widespread prescriptions of opioids began in the 1990s, and overdoses increased throughout that decade. The opioid crisis peaked in the 2010s with rapid increases in overdoses involving heroin. In 2013, overdoses rose again due to the introduction of synthetic opioids.

The year 2020 saw the most significant increase in opioid-related deaths, particularly one involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl and tramadol.

Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr. issued a statement on Wednesday warning against “jumping to conclusions or making unproven statements.” 

Perkins said the student was a son.

Because the student was a juvenile, officials have decided not to release his name.

In a Facebook post from Selma City Schools on Wednesday, the school system said around 30 supporters came to the school to help develop a support plan for students and faculty.

In the post, the system thanked several organizations from around the state, including the Alabama State Board of Education, the Dallas County Court Services Drug Court Team and a representative from Alethia House, an organization that provides substance abuse treatment. 

However, it is unclear how these organizations were involved.

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