August has proven to be the deadliest month for suspected overdose deaths this year in Knox County.
According to death statistics compiled by the medical examiner's officer, there have been 39 suspected fatal overdoses so far in August.
The total number of suspected overdose deaths is up to 219 so far in 2017, nearing 224 deaths, the total of 2016 in Knox County.
The numbers reported may change once officials receive the results from toxicology reports but the numbers are still staggering.
"It's our highest month yet. 39 for August is our highest month. Our previous highest month had been March when we had 33 so, so far this has been our worst month this year," Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen said.
While 39 is a number, it also represents 39 families forever changed by this epidemic.
"There really is a human element to this. It touches everyone in this community, everyone in our society and it's devastating," Allen said.
Allen is one of several officials on an opioid task force created to track deaths but the numbers don't paint a clear picture.
"The numbers are very hard to read. The numbers trend overall up but they rise and fall and it's hard to follow them," she explained.
Allen said over the last five days there haven't been any suspected overdose deaths.
"It's just really hard to gauge those numbers and in this month, in August we've had six days where we've had three overdoses per day," Allen said.
That's why looking at the statistics is vital to understanding the epidemic at hand.
"Are we getting bad batches of heroin in here? What area of town is that batch in? Are these numbers coming from the same dealers? Do we have fentanyl in all areas?" Allen asked.
They are questions the task force hopes to have answers to someday.
"That's what's valuable to us as prosecutors to be able to gather this data to use it to try and get ahead and get on the prevention side of this in a way to try and stop this," Allen emphasized.
Until then, they hope the numbers stay low.
"We are so close to last year's numbers there's no question that we will have more deaths than 224 which was last year's number. Now, whether we will reach 300 or not I don't know. I'd be scared to predict and I can say that we hope we don't reach 300," Allen said.