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This heartbreaking opioid overdose map is putting hundreds of human faces on an epidemic

This heartbreaking opioid overdose map is putting hundreds of human faces on an epidemic
[Map: courtesy of Celebrating Lost Loved Ones]

As opioid addiction continues to ravage communities across the United States, mapping technology from Esri is helping loved ones of victims cope by letting them crowdsource an interactive memorial. The “Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” map, which was created in 2016 by Esri engineer Jeremiah Lindemann, allows users to add images and descriptions of their late loved ones, along with the place of their death.

The result is a poignant and devastating homage to overdose victims across the country, one that emphasizes the human toll behind the opioid crisis with a visual record of the people it is leaving in its wake.

Since it was created, the map has gathered more than 1,300 memorials and counting. In a testament to its effectiveness, the National Safety Council is announcing this week that it will “adopt” the map and use it to help raise awareness about the opioid epidemic. Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSR, said in a statement that the map “can help reduce the stigma around opioid-related deaths by allowing us to get to know those in our community who were loved and are so deeply missed.”

According to the latest data from the CDC, opioids were involved in more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, and opioid deaths have increased fivefold since 1999.

While no single solution can fix the crisis, we’ve been following some of the more interesting ideas out there. Last week our Mark Sullivan wrote about a startup led by a synthetic biologist who is trying to bioengineer a less addictive opioid with genetically altered yeast.

You can view the “Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” map here.

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