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NASHVILLE (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and Department of Health are kicking off a new campaign centered around the risk of drug overdose and suicide during the winter holidays.

The campaign, called ResilienTN, focuses on building resilience and strengthening community connections to prevent the tragic loss of life to overdose and suicide.

Behavioral health experts worry the climate around the COVID-19 pandemic may worsen the rise in overdoses traditionally associated with the winter holidays and could also result in increased deaths from suicide.

Through media messaging around overdose and suicide prevention, social media outreach, and virtual trainings and events, the ResilienTN campaign seeks to empower Tennesseans with the tools and knowledge to overcome to the personal challenges they face, watch out for and help those around them, and emerge on the other side stronger than ever.

“Resilience is a key focus of our department’s mission and vision, and it’s an essential part of life during the pandemic.  Resilience tells us, ‘I’ve been through tough times before, so I can handle this,’” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.  “By drawing attention to the tragic loss of life through overdose and suicide in our state, we are hoping to encourage Tennesseans to draw upon the resilience they have inside themselves, their families, workplaces, and communities to prevent another family from feeling that pain.”

Drug overdose deaths have continued to increase in Tennessee, up from 1,818 in 2018 to 2,089 in 2019, a 15% increase. 

“We know many Tennesseans are struggling with the challenges this year has thrown at us, and we want to remind everyone that resources are available to provide support when we or our loved ones need it to keep moving forward,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Every death from suicide or overdose is preventable, and we’re proud to join our partners in this important effort to save Tennessee lives.”

Provisional data suggest that overdose deaths in 2020 are on track to exceed 2019 overdose deaths.

To learn more about COVID-19 and overdose in Tennessee, click here.

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Content Producer

Blake was born and raised in Central Ohio where he began working in TV broadcast in 2011 before moving into morning radio. Blake joined the WSMV team in October 2019. Any news stories and ideas can be sent directly to blake.summers@wsmv.com

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