Facing an Everyday Killer
In 2017, for the first time in U.S. history, a person was more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash, according to National Safety Council analysis. The odds of dying accidentally from an opioid overdose have risen even more sharply, climbing to 1 in 67 in 2020 (from 1 in 96 in 2017), eclipsing the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash (1 in 101).
Millions of Americans have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis, but 40% still do not consider it to be a threat to their family, according to National Safety Council poll results.
NSC launched Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis – a multifaceted exhibit aimed at changing Americans’ attitudes toward opioids – as a part of the Council’s Stop Everyday Killers public education campaign. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a wall of 22,000 engraved white pills. Each represents the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in 2015, based on the most recent overdose data available at the time of the exhibit's launch. Since then, opioid overdose deaths have more than tripled.
New York has been hit particularly hard. More than 3,200 people in New York fatally overdosed on opioids in 2017, and Long Island residents accounted for more than 20% of those deaths. That year, Nassau County alone lost 184 people to opioid overdose.
New York State resident Avi Israel, who founded Save the Michaels of the World after losing his son, Michael, lent his son’s personal effects to NSC to display as part of the exhibit. Visitors enter a small remembrance room where Mr. Israel shares Michael’s story in a short video.
Advocate Sharon Richmond, a teacher from Northport in Suffolk County, lost her 25-year-old son, E. Vincent D’Antoni, in 2017 to a fentanyl-related overdose. Ms. Richmond shared her son’s personal story at the memorial’s unveiling on Sept. 23.
The memorial is accompanied by resources that help visitors safely dispose of unused pills in their homes and facilitate discussions with prescribers about alternatives. Visitors receive first-of-their-kind “Opioids: Warn Me” labels to affix to their insurance cards, empowering them to discuss with prescribers the risks of taking opioids and whether other pain relief options are available.
Individuals who have lost loved ones to opioid overdose honored them at the exhibit by adding their loved one’s name to a digital memorial provided by the National Safety Council.
The exhibit was underwritten by contributions from RXR Realty, Northwell Health, Mets Foundation, Save the Michaels of the World, Flexion Therapeutics, Eric and Marc Blumencranz, Stericycle and Schneider National. Visit stopeverydaykillers.org for more information.
Nassau County, N.Y., was the eighth stop on the memorial’s nationwide tour, and the third stop in New York – the only state to host it multiple times. Unveiled in Chicago in November 2017, the memorial previously visited Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Fayetteville (Ark.), Houston, Buffalo, Albany and Washington, D.C., where it was displayed on the Ellipse in President’s Park at the White House.