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San Diego City and county officials are fighting the fentanyl crisis through education

Local students got a chance to learn about the dangers associated with the synthetic opioid for National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego city and county officials are coming together to raise awareness about the danger of fentanyl for National Fentanyl Awareness Day. This comes as overdose deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout San Diego County.

Local students got a chance to learn more about fentanyl with a sobering visit with the man who sees the deaths firsthand.

A total of 80 students from San Diego High School and Mission Hills High School were able to see what a lethal amount of fentanyl can look like, how the drug is tested, and even see real people who were affected.

“This is a very serious situation, we should just be aware of it and look for the signs," said tenth grader, Jisela Mora.

“I’ve never seen an overdose before, so what I learned I can go home and tell my brothers, my parents, my friends what it looks like so if they’re ever in a situation like that they know what to do," added student, Sierra Colum.

The students heard from Dr. Steven Campman, the county’s medical examiner and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Hathaway.

“We’re focusing on the threat that this has to the community, specifically youth and young adults where fentanyl poisoning is the leading cause of death now, not only in San Diego, but across the country," said Hathaway.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists fentanyl as the number one killer in the nation for those between the ages of 18-45.

In San Diego County, the medical examiner recorder 143 accidental deaths from fentanyl in 2019. That number more than tripled the following year. In 2021, it jumped by more than 57% to nearly 779 deaths.

The deaths span the entire county, affecting almost every community.

"One single pill could potentially be fatal," continued Hathaway.

Officials say they plan to continue fighting the fentanyl crisis through education.

Watch Related: Families who lost loved ones from fentanyl demand action (May 9, 2023 )

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