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Apr 30, 2019 12:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town To Host Second Opioid Candlelight Vigil In May

The candlelight vigil at Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays in 2018.    PRESS FILE
May 1, 2019 10:14 AM

The Southampton Town Opioid Addiction and Recovery Committee will host two events this month in an effort to raise opioid addiction awareness and offer victims an opportunity to speak of those lost to the statewide epidemic.

The committee will hold its second annual candlelight vigil on Saturday, May 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays.

Since the creation of the Southampton Town Opioid Task Force in 2017, town officials have pledged that they will not cease efforts to shed light on the epidemic until the number of opioid-related deaths is reduced to zero.

The task force was disbanded last July after the 42-member team successfully compiled a list of recommendations to address the town’s opioid crisis. The recovery committee—a 16-member team, including former News 12 anchorman Drew Scott and Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki—was then created to implement those recommendations.

“While the number of deaths have declined since we first started the task force, the number of Narcan saves are up, which indicates we still have a problem,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in a press release last week. “We have had only one death so far this year, but that’s still one death too many.”

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph confirmed that only one person has died due to an opioid overdose between January 1 and April 30 this year. However, police reported a total of nine Narcan saves—an increase from eight within the same four-month period last year.

In 2017, between January and April, Town Police reported seven fatal overdoses and only two Narcan saves, according to Lt. Ralph.

East Hampton Town Police could not immediately provide detailed information on the recent number of opioid-related deaths.

Based on previous reports, the Town of East Hampton had three opioid-related deaths as of last November—matching the number from 2017, according to the East Hampton Town Police Department.

A total of 19 candles—representing lives lost to opioids in Southampton—were arranged in a circle on the amphitheater deck at last year’s vigil at Good Ground Park. The candles were surrounded by 400 additional flickering flames—one for every opioid-related death in Suffolk County. Nationwide, the epidemic has claimed more than 630,000 lives between 1999 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to the vigil, the Recovery Committee will sponsor a forum to educate parents on the warning signs associated with substance abuse, including alcohol and vaping among teens. The “roundtable” is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton.

Kym Laube, the executive director at Human Understanding and Growth Services, or HUGS, will speak with parents about “what every parent should know,” according to a Southampton Town press release last week.

Additionally, Southampton Town Police representatives will offer Narcan training to those interested in taking home a free resource kit. Police will also provide parents with tips including, “what to look for, where to look for it and what is currently happening in our community,” according to the press release.

The opioid committee’s co-chair, Nancy Lynott, who also serves as director of the Southampton Town Youth Bureau, called the forum a “great opportunity for parents … to come together to learn more about preventing youth substance abuse.”

“This is the first forum designed just for parents,” she added. “We hope this gives them the tools they need to keep children and the youth of our community safe from dangerous substance use behaviors.”

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Talk talk talk no action
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 1, 19 11:01 PM