ITHACA, N.Y. — For International Overdose Awareness Day, a forum focused on treatment, overdose, saving lives and remembering people who have lost their lives to overdose will be held in Ithaca next week.

The 2nd Annual Community Forum will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Space@GreenStar, at 700 W. Buffalo St. in Ithaca.

The forum will include an educational presentation, a panel of local experts and a remembrance. Ithaca and many communities have been grappling with increased overdoses and working on ways to prevent them. In 2017, more than 72,000 people died from drug overdoses nationally. Overdose rates in Tompkins County have also been steadily rising.

“We must act as a supportive community to save the lives of the people who still live with addiction, and we must remember those who have died from overdose, in all of their humanity. Saving lives requires cutting through the stigma and sense of isolation felt by people who live with addiction,” Judge John C. Rowley said in a statement. “On this International Overdose Awareness Day, Ithacans join with thousands of people from across the world to save lives and honor the humanity of our neighbors.”

Related: International Overdose Awareness Day: ‘The stigma of addiction, it kills people. It forces people to suffer in secret’

Speakers will include: Honorable John C. Rowley, Tompkins County and Family Court Judge; John Barry, executive director of the Southern Tier AIDS Program; William Rusen, executive director of Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services; a representative for Angela Sullivan, executive director of the Alcohol and Drug Council, and Frank Kruppa, commissioner of mental health and the public health director for Tompkins County.

Following the forum,  at noon Friday in the Tompkins County Public Library, there will be a training session on how to use Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. Narcan is available over the counter. Each person who attends will be given their own Narcan kits.

The forum is part of a coordinated public education campaign taking place across the world for International Overdose Day.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.