Fargo Cass Public Health Set to Observe International Overdose Awareness Day

(Fargo, ND) -- Local communities around the world are collectively observing August 31st as International Overdose Awareness Day. This is a day to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. IOAD seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.

“We want to remind the community that overdoses are still happening right here at home. They are preventable and we can work together as a community to support those most affected through education and outreach, and also by working to end the stigma associated with drug related death,” said Jan Eliassen, Harm Reduction Director at Fargo Cass Public Health.

Several local activities are planned to commemorate IOAD, including:

  • On Monday, local artist Kim Jore, Riverzen, will begin painting a mural on the exterior of the Harm Reduction Center. Kim is donating her time to this important project and plans to incorporate inspiration from those who have experienced an overdose and/or lost a loved one due to an overdose.
  • Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney will proclaim Tuesday, August 31st as International Overdose Awareness Day in Fargo, North Dakota, and Fargo City Hall will display outdoor lighting in purple, the color signifying overdose awareness.
  • On Tuesday, August 31st, the FCPH Harm Reduction Center plans to place 59 purple flags on its lawn- one for each of the lives lost to overdose in Cass County in 2020.

By conducting IOAD activities, Fargo is joining a global movement for understanding, compassion, and change.

In 2019, there were a record 874 IOAD events of all kinds, held in 39 countries. Last year, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the world united again to hold 602 events – a phenomenal result. People and communities come together annually to raise awareness of one of the world’s most urgent public health crises – one that, unfortunately, is only getting worse.

Statistics for the 2020 calendar year show that the situation has become even more critical since the current pandemic began, decreasing tolerance of people who use drugs and disrupting both services and the drug supply chain.