Our nation is facing a striking opioid epidemic like we have never seen. In 2015 over 22,000 people were lost to opioid overdose deaths. Pennsylvania ranks 4th in the nation for the number of opioid overdose deaths and 3rd in the nation for all drug overdose deaths. The crisis has hit home.
The Prescribed to Death Memorial is a tribute to the victims of the opioid crisis, featuring individuals, their faces and their stories. The Memorial launched in Chicago in November and is making its second stop in Pittsburgh on January 30th. The Memorial includes a wall of 22,000 white pills, each carved with the face of an individual who passed away from an overdose. Aside from the wall, the Memorial will feature personal effects from families who lost loved ones to overdose, and a place where visitors can add the names of loved ones who have died. There will also be pill-return envelopes (to safely dispose of unused medications still in the home) as well as “Opioids: Warn Me” labels that visitors can put on their insurance card or pharmacy loyalty card when purchasing their prescriptions. During its time in Chicago, the Memorial drew hundreds of visitors, received local, state and national media attention, and served as the backdrop of a short film that has garnered nearly 7 million online views.
By providing communities with a visual representation, we want people to learn that they are impacted and that they can do something about it. The more people feel empowered to protect themselves and their loved ones, the more we have a chance at curbing the epidemic