Thousands of flags planted on Boston Common for Overdose Awareness Day

Thursday marks International Overdose Awareness Day, and thousands of flags were planted at the Boston Common to remember the lives lost in Massachusetts.

The Department of Public Health is hosting Thursday morning's event at the Common, where 22,000 purple flags were planted — symbolizing the people who have died in the Bay State from overdoses since 2011.

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Several local leaders and officials attended, including Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.

"This is a special day in Massachusetts, but this is happening not only around the country, but around the globe — communities coming together to gather, to remember lives lost and to recommit to do all we can to prevent overdoses," Driscoll said.

Driscoll hoped that the flags would increase awareness of the overdose crisis.

"I think the hard truth is addiction and overdose represent an urgent crisis in our state," Driscoll said. "It's one of the reasons we've leaned in to ensuring we have adequate resources and opportunities to combat this crisis."

The lieutenant governor said battling the crisis has been a priority in the state's budget and in public health resources.

There were 2,357 confirmed and estimated fatal opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts last year, a record high that's a 9.1% increase from 2016, according to public health data released in June.

Information about resources for people battling addiction is available on the state's website.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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