Over ten thousand origami cranes have been folded by Tasmanians in 2019 and 2020 to raise awareness of the risks of overdose, commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day – observed annually on the 31st of August.
The number of cranes folded this year surprised even the campaign organisers, according to Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council (ATDC) chief executive Alison Lai.
“In 2019 we asked the Tasmanian community to help us reach the goal of 1,000 origami cranes and encouraged people to use folding a crane as a gentle way to start a conversation, break down any stigma, and remember those that may have sadly already been lost to overdose, ” she said.
“The campaign was a huge success and we were inundated with 4,239 cranes.
“We decided to run the campaign again this year, and due to COVID-19 asked people to submit photos of each crane they folded.
“We had hoped we could come close to last year’s number of cranes, and were blown away by the support from right around Tasmania, particularly at this difficult time with 5,796 cranes sent in over the last couple of months.”
Images sent in this year have been combined with the photos of cranes sent in 2019, to form an artwork consisting of 10,035 cranes, which the ATDC will release today. High resolution images available on request
“The artwork is beautiful to look at, but it also encapsulates the key messages of International Overdose Awareness Day,” Ms Lai said.
“If you look closely, overdose has a profound impact on each person affected and those around them.
“Take a step back, however, and you’ll see that overdose impacts Tasmanians from all backgrounds, and we need to come together to end overdose,”
Support for the ATDC’s 2020 Overdose Awareness Day campaign has come from all over Tasmania, from alcohol and other drug treatment services, community groups, to university students, parliamentarians and every day Tasmanians.
“I’d like to extend a special thank you to Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Jeremy Rockliff, for acknowledging the importance of International Overdose Awareness Day in his speech to parliament on Tuesday,” Ms Lai said.
New data released today by leading independent drug organisation Penington Institute has revealed that 182 Tasmanians died of unintentional overdose in the five years from 2014 to 2018.
“This highlights just how important overdose awareness is to Tasmania,” Ms Lai said.
“The majority of overdoses in Tasmania are accidental and can be caused by alcohol or illicit drugs but pharmaceutical medicines continue to be the leading cause.
“Overdose is preventable, and the first thing you can do to help end overdose is to talk about it.
“We need to break down the stigma around overdose, so I would encourage everyone to start that conversation today, whether it be with your family, friends, doctor or pharmacist.”
ATDC Media Contact: Alison Lai, CEO – 0450 517 017