Erie County leaders to host 'Black Balloon Day,' bringing awareness to opioid epidemic

Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-06 23:20:40-05

County leaders and families who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses participate in 'Black Balloon Day' on the steps of Old County Hall, to remember loved ones lost to addiction.

On Monday evening, members of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force, West Side Youth Development Coalition and families who have been affected by the opioid epidemic gathered to commemorate all who have been lost.

As of March 3rd, there have been over 60 suspected opioid related deaths in Erie County in 2017.

People in attendance paid silent tribute to victims of addiction. The objective of the event was to increase awareness of addiction and members of the community who have lost loved ones. 

Debra Smith, who lost her son Nathaniel to an overdose, hopes to help others who have struggled with addiction or loss. "When I lost my Nathaniel, I knew that there were plenty of other families out there who were suffering in silence. The way to break the stigma and get resources we need, and recognition of the depth of this illness is to speak about it."

Anyone who attends and has been affected by the opioid epidemic will be able to take home a black balloon to hang outside of their home.