SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — As fentanyl-related deaths continue to increase nationwide, Santa Clara County is joining other states to raise awareness of the poisonous drug for the first-ever National Fentantly Awareness Day.

According to public health officials, Illegally made fentanyl is the primary driver of growing overdose and poisoning deaths among 14- to 23-year-olds. In Santa Clara County, officials are growing concerned over fentanyl-related deaths as overdoses rose from 29 in 2019 to 90 in 2020 and 135 in 2021.

“We know that this is a problem in our community and that we’ve lost at least 328 lives to to fentantyl overdose or toxicity,” said Supervior Chavez. “We know that many youth in our community are self medicating when they’re depressed or have anxiety, especially after the pandemic”

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In April, Supervisor Chavez established a working group alongside District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s office to combat fentanyl-related deaths within the county. The working group has been working over the last month to determine how to effectively inform young county residents on the dangers of fentanyl-laces drug and how to use fentanyl test strips and the opiod overdose medication naloxone.

The establishment of the working group comes after a San Jose Police Officer was found dead in his Milpitas home on March 13. A coroner later determined that the office died from a fentanyl drug overdose.

“The real faces of fentanyl are childen’s faces: happy, bright-eyed,” said Rosen. “They’re grown people with jobs and families and this past week we found out that one of the faces of fentantyl was one of our San Jose Police officers.”

At Tuesday’s press conference, South Bay officials were joined by parents who’ve lost a a child from fentanyl poisoning. Officals said local law enforcemnt seized approximatley 11,000 fentanly laced pills a few weeks ago.

“This drug doesn’t discriminate, it is not a street drug for a homeless community, it reaches every part of our community and it reached ours,” said Brandon Mullen, a member of the count’ys working group and who also lost his 18-year-old son to fentanly poisoning after taking a counterfit pill in 2020. “If I can do one thing today is talk to parents and young people about getting the word out and giving you resources.”