Vigil pays tribute to overdose victims while shining a light on addiction crisis

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Heavy hearts fueled a powerful message Thursday night as the Fall River community came together to remember loved ones lost to addiction while raising awareness of the ongoing opioid crisis.

August 31 is marked as International Overdose Awareness Day. All over the world, people sought to bring light to addiction in hopes of making a change.

Outside Fall River Government Center, dozens of people from all walks of life held a candlelight vigil to pray for family and friends who’ve died as the result of an overdose.

“It’s happening every day in our communities,” Lori Santos of Recover Fall River said. “The stigma that’s attached to it, people just think, ‘oh, it’s an addict that had an overdose.'”

“Don’t be ashamed of your story” is the phrase that Recover Fall River focuses on, and it’s why Santos decided to share her own.

“It was in my home,” she said. “It was my baby brother.”

Santos said she doesn’t want anyone to walk in her shoes and she believes change can start with a group of people coming together.

Resources for people who may be facing addiction or know someone who is were also made available during Thursday night’s event.

Earlier on Thursday, people gathered outside of the Rhode Island State House to unveil the “Banner of Love” in hopes of garnering support for those who’ve been impacted by the opioid crisis. Build The Banner of Love founder Joy LaTorre said the organization has created a network of local families affected by overdose deaths.