“I thought he was mad at me because he didn’t want to play with me anymore”
A young voice echoes as a boy plays with a baseball in his room, an older brother brushing by toward the bathroom. Other voices join in, quietly reflecting on missed signs.
“He was complaining his muscles hurt, and I thought it was because he had a hard workout.”
“I just thought he was busy with school.”
“He was missing a lot of practice. He said he was sick! I should have asked what was wrong.”
“I didn’t see the signs. I didn’t even know I was supposed to be looking. I know now, but knowing now is too late for my son.”
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) has partnered with the New York State Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (NYSCCME) to make an ad campaign which has been playing across television stations in New York for the past few weeks. The campaign aims to help to bring awareness to the signs of opioid abuse and eradicate the opioid overdose deaths that are occurring at a rapid rate.
“Our offices and the medical examiner offices are getting inundated with these deaths of people of every socioeconomic class, not just the homeless,” said Scott Schmidt, chief coroner of Orleans County and president of NYSCCME. “Not just the unemployed. Not just the lower and the lower-middle class. Everybody across the board. We needed to do something as an association to help do our part in getting this stopped.”
The public awareness campaign anchored to the website ny.seethesignssavealife.org, acts as a resource for anyone affected by the opioid epidemic.
“As local leaders, we must do everything we can to raise awareness about the opioid crisis in our communities and prompt families to look for the signs of addiction,” said Chuck Nesbitt, Orleans County chief administrative officer and NYSAC president-elect, in a news release. “This public service announcement is another valuable resource to educate our residents and help those who are suffering from addiction.”
Schmidt said they needed an “in-your-face message” to tell people if they get involved with opioids, there is two options: get clean or die. The commercial was a bit shocking, he admitted, but shows the result of what happens when people get mixed up in drugs.
Schmidt said the campaign has been catching on and the response has been “phenomenal.”
“Our goal is to save one life, and hopefully if we do that, one life will spread to another five, spread to another 10, another 20, another 50, another 100 just the snowball effect of this message that if you don’t get clean you’re going to die,” he said. “We can’t say it more succinctly than that.”
For people struggling with addiction, the 24-hour support helpline is 1 (877) 846-7369. You can also visit FindAddictionTreatment.NY.gov or text HopeNY at 467369.