It goes without saying that if 500 Long Islanders were dying annually in car accidents, there would be a public outcry. Yet, that’s how many fatal drug overdoses were reported islandwide in 2016. The East End has not been spared. Every village and hamlet in the region has experienced its share of tragedy. And it’s only growing worse. Last month, at a public forum on the opioid crisis, Southampton Town officials announced that the number of fatal overdoses had spiked from five in all of 2016 to 17 through mid-November of this year.
That’s a truly frightening development and one reason The Sag Harbor Express has joined with the Times Review Media Group, The Press News Group and The Independent to form the East End New Project to report on — and hopefully help solve — this critical problem.
But for this initiative to be a success, we need the public to become our partners. Our reporters will be reaching out to our sources, examining the data provided by governmental agencies, and searching for the stories that will help us shed light on this epidemic. But we also need you to reach out and share your stories with us. We need to talk to people in recovery and families who have lost — or saved — loved ones, as well as those on the front lines of treatment, first responders and anyone else with information to share.
We believe that by working together we will be able to make a difference. For information about how you can help, see our story on page 1 of this issue and, please, reach out to us. It could save a life.