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Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council is partnering with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and other Western New York funders to bring the Council’s opioid memorial to Canalside Buffalo Aug. 20-26. Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis is free and open to the public daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The memorial puts a face on the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history, personalizing an issue that was declared a public health emergency last fall. Buffalo is the fourth stop on the memorial’s nationwide tour. Unveiled last November in Chicago, the memorial previously visited Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., where it was displayed on the Ellipse in President’s Park at the White House. It will travel to Ohio in September and Houston in October.
“The most important thing about this crisis is not the statistics, but the faces,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The data speak to our head but the individual stories speak to our hearts. The Prescribed to Death memorial not only brings visitors face to face with this everyday killer, but also encourages actions that will help us eliminate these preventable deaths.”
NSC launched Prescribed to Death, 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 representing the face of someone lost to a prescription opioid overdose in 2015. Buffalo resident Avi Israel, who founded Save the Michaels of the World after losing his son, Michael, lent his son’s personal effects to display as part of the exhibit. Visitors enter a small remembrance room where Mr. Israel shares Michael’s story in a short video.
The memorial is accompanied by resources that help visitors both 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. The Council has partnered with Stericycle, a Chicago-based waste disposal company, to provide Seal and Send medication disposal envelopes to help visitors easily get rid of unused medications. The envelopes are safe, reliable and anonymous.
Individuals who have lost loved ones to opioid overdose will have the opportunity to honor them at Canalside. Guests can add their loved one’s name to a digital memorial provided by NSC, or remember them by sharing photos, flowers or personal effects on site. Please note, items will not be returned.
The exhibit is underwritten by contributions from BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Save the Michaels of the World, Stericycle, DiVal Safety and Supplies, The John R. Oishei Foundation, First Niagara Foundation, Addiction Open Access Hotline and Schneider National. Visit stopeverydaykillers.org for more information.
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