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'Preventable deaths': KC mayor tackles drug crisis with first-ever 'Fentanyl Summit'

Samantha Latson, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas held a “Fentanyl Summit” Friday afternoon at the Kansas City Health Department to raise awareness on the city’s fentanyl and opioid crisis.

Health officials, law enforcement and families had a public discussion to tackle the epidemic of opioid and fentanyl related-deaths.

During a news conference after the event, the mayor categorized the issue of drug overdoses in the city as an “epidemic” driven by fentanyl.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 109,698 overdose deaths in 2022. As previously reported by The Kansas City Star, Kansas City saw a nearly 1,000% increase in overdose deaths from 2017 to 2021.

The Star reported that since 2018, more than 850 people in the city died from fentanyl.

While the mayor spoke on the rise of drug-related deaths in the city, he stressed the importance of remembering the humanity behind the statistics that attest to this crisis in America.

 

“The numbers are important,” Lucas said. “But what does that nearly 1,000% increase mean? It means that there are hundreds of families in Kansas City who have been touched by this epidemic. There are hundreds of friends, schools and neighborhoods that are touched by this epidemic and we’re committed to fighting it.”

The mayor referenced his recent visit with North Kansas City high school students who presented their efforts to reduce opioid overdoses in the city.

While there, the mayor realized youth want public officials to be present and care about the issues that affect them.

“The first thing I took from the youth the other day is they want us to speak with them,” Lucas said. “It turns out having voices that say we are here for you and care about you surviving, are the things we’re working hard to do.”

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