For the first time since 2010, the number of opioid deaths in Massachusetts is down so far this year, but a group in Wrentham says too many lives are still being lost to addiction. They are using the numbers to make a bold statement about the opioid crisis by putting up signs that spark conversation.
All of the signs all have #2069 on them. It represents the number of opioid related deaths in Massachusetts in 2016.
“We were stunned by it,” Rev. Ron Tibbetts of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Wrentham said. “When they are human lives and spirits and people loaded with potential, that’s a big number.”
The outreach committee at the church, in partnership with the S.A.F.E Coalition, decided to print the number on signs and display them around town. They knew the signs would raise questions, which they say only helps their goal of raising awareness about the opioid crisis.
One of the signs is in the front yard of Lynn Wencus. She lost her son to an overdose in February.
“If we can help just one person it makes it all worthwhile,” Wencus said. “It gives me hope that through this process hopefully that number will go down.”
As they wait for the deaths to go down, the requests for signs are going up. From Wrentham to Walpole, Millis to Spencer, the church can hardly keep up with the demand.
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“I thought 25, 30, 40 signs at best,” Rev. Tibbetts said. “I thought we were going to have a hard time inviting people into this conversation, but it’s been amazing. It’s truly been amazing.”
Many of the signs are up at police departments, including the station in Wrentham. First responders say they fully support the idea.
“The community action is exactly what we need because police can’t do it alone,” Deputy Chief Bill McGrath said.
The community is also planning a No Shame, Erasing the Stigma rally on the Wrentham Town Common October 28.