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From Brendan Schweigart

Black Balloon Day set for March 6th in Steuben County

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Remembering those lost to an overdose, preventing the next death

 A dozen people died due to overdose in Steuben County last year. So far this year, one person has died.

They weren’t statistics. They were someone’s child, mom or dad, brother, sister, best friend. They were loved and loving.

They will be remembered March 6 throughout Steuben County during the annual international Black Balloon Day.

The event not only marks tragedies in Steuben, it aims to prevent the next one.

Opioid overdoses in Steuben in 2022 soared compared to the year before, jumping to 290 reported cases. Reports indicate 92 Narcan administrations, which likely prevented more deaths in the county.

The Steuben Coalition also will join the national remembrance, with black balloons flying throughout the county, a virtual balloon release and proclamations issued by local leaders.

According to the new National Opioid Database, Opioid Overdose Tracker – NEMSIS, Steuben has a higher-than-average opioid overdose rate compared to the rest of the state, Steuben Opioid Prevention Committee Program Coordinator Connie Terry said.

Terry said a 2022 CDC survey reports one in seven high school students are misusing prescription drugs.

“People say it can’t happen here, but it does – at a higher-than-average rate. And it’s happening with our kids,” Terry said. “There is a clear need in Steuben County for not only recovery services, but for prevention funding and funding to promote harm reduction.”

** Black Balloon Day was launched in 2016 in Massachusetts by Diane Hurley and her daughter, Lauren Cook, the day first noted the tragic passing of their family

member Greg Tremblay. The father of four, Tremblay died of an overdose on March 6, 2015. He was 38.

Some 42,000 people joined them for the first event. Since then, the movement has become a worldwide event, with tens of thousands mourning their loss and celebrating the lives of those they loved.

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