TUCSON, Ariz. - As the opioid crisis continues to damage communities across the country, new mapping technology is helping family members of victims cope by allowing them to crowdsource an interactive memorial.
The map was created by engineer Jeremiah Lindemann and allows users to add photos and short stories of loved ones who have passed away, including the place of their passing.
The goal of the map is to create a place to honor and respect overdose victims across the United States.
We want a map, "that emphasizes the human toll behind the opioid crisis with a visual record of the victims it is leaving behind," Lindemann explained.
Since its creation, the map has gathered more than 1,500 memorials.
There are only a handful of stories shared by loved ones in Arizona.
Twenty-one stories have been shared in the Phoenix area and two in the Santa Cruz County area.
The lack of publicity and the stigma surrounding the opioids in the state may be the reason, Lindemann explained. He hopes the number of stories shared in Arizona will continue to grow and believes this will help improve the opioid crisis in Arizona.
"This is a community effort, the more solutions we have, the better," Lindemann said.
Recently, the National Safety Council announced that it has "adopted" the map and use it to help raise awareness about the opioid epidemic.
The project helps raise awareness of the broad impact of the opioid crisis and advances the Council's mission of ending opioid deaths, an article reads on the NSC's website. Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC, 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, from 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Opioid deaths have increased fivefold since 1999.
Since there is no solution for the crisis, this can prove to be one of the more interesting ideas, Lindemann said.
You can view the "Celebrating Lost Loved Ones" map here. To sign up, click on the link, scroll to the top right corner and click "add lost loved one." You will then have to fill out a form, answer a couple of questions and upload a photo of your loved one. The submission will be revised by the NSR's and you will receive a response in a couple of days.