Story Ideas related to August 2021 Overdose Awareness

I was going to email local news teams in advance of next Tuesday’s Int’l Overdose Awareness Day, and then the news broke Monday night about yet another teenager, this time Valentina, a 14 year old from Concord High School, who died from what is likely to be proven to be a Fentapill.

I was going to share with the journalists how, since my son’s death on November 17, 2019, I have seen a paradigm shift in the demographic of fentanyl deaths. When Trevor died in his dorm room at Sonoma State, I knew that his previous drug use and addiction could possibly lead to death – but I never thought it would be from one seemingly innocuous pill, laced with fentanyl.

And since Trevor’s death, the number of teenagers, as young as Valentina – forever 14 in Concord, and Luca Faith – forever 14 in Redding, and Zach Didier - forever 17 in Rocklin, Alexander Neville - forever 14 in Laguna Niguel, and too many others in California and throughout the US, keeps increasing.

As Valentina’s death underscores, the word is NOT getting out that #OnePillCanKill.

The toxicology report will not be available for a while, but I would bet money that it will show that her death was caused by fentanyl (or carfentanyl)

I urge all news media to continue to raise awareness of fentanyl poisoning and overdose deaths, during August Overdose Awareness Month & in advance of 8/31 International Overdose Awareness Day:

Here are many ideas for local stories, in light of Valentina’s death:

- The paradigm shift happening around fentanyl poisoning deaths. When my son died, my BFF shared “Michelle, Trevor’s death, and the other fentanyl poisoning deaths you’ve shared, reminds me of the beginning of the AIDS crisis. People don’t care that addicts/drug users are dying, people think they deserve to die, just like people thought IV drug users and homosexuals deserved to die by AIDS.” It wasn’t until Ryan White contracted AIDS that the media and politicians came around to raising more awareness – and funding – around the disease of Auto ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. Similarly, now teenagers who should learn from their mistakes, are dying from their mistakes – because they don’t realize that nearly all street pills include fentanyl. We need to elevate awareness that ONE PILL CAN KILL – and more teens are dying from their drug experimentation, especially during the COVID lockdown, boredom, and SnapChat and Instagram dealers serving ads to teens in their rooms, delivering poison within 30 minutes to their front door.

- Resources for parents, schools, to share with middle/high/college students and parents: – started in memory of Charlie Ternan who died at Santa Clara University in 2020.

o As of 8/12, Santa Clara had 44 fentanyl overdose deaths so far this year, outpacing previous years, after a recent cluster from fentanyl-laced meth.

- Two International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD21, #OverdoseDay) events in the Bay Area:

- 5th Annual Overdose Awareness Night in Daly City: Speakers on Recovery, Education and Harm Reduction, Memorial Table & Candlelight Vigil at Sunset

o Contact: Jennifer Sisson

Phone: 6505150891


o Marin County Overdose Awareness Day 2021 (organized by me, with help from RxSafe Marin and The Spahr Center)

All events and Narcan Distribution is FREE

Naloxone Training & Narcan Distribution:

§ 10-11 MARIN CITY – Marin City Target

§ 12-1 SAN RAFAEL – Plaza on 4th Street

§ 2-3 NOVATO – Corner of Grant and Machin Ave.

7pm: Marin 2nd Annual Overdose Awareness

Day Zoom Event – Memorial & Education


I am a member of the California Peace

Coalition, and we have a plan to change the fentanyl crisis and other linked

issues in California – We are a

nonpartisan coalition of parents of children at risk of dying from illicit

deadly drugs, parents of children killed by fentanyl, and community leaders who

are fighting against drug death markets, for psychiatry for all, and for

Shelter First to save lives, our communities, and our state. Visit

for more information, including wanting to implement a State-wide CalPsych effort

to battle fentanyl crisis, addiction, mental health, and the unhoused in

California – details at

- The dangers of fentanyl, and other illicit opiates including carfentanyl which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, in today’s drug supply. Just a few granules is the difference between life and death.

- How Naloxone/Narcan can reverse an opiate death such as Valentina’s or Trevor’s – and why the easy-to-use Narcan should be in every dorm room, every young adult’s apartment or home. I now am able to educate and distribute Narcan in my community, and will do so at three locations on IOAD21 next Tuesday. Resources are available online to locate free naloxone (Narcan) throughout the US.

I fervently hope that the news media does not stop reporting on this tragedy, until there are no longer news stories about fentanyl deaths – especially the out-of-order death of a 14 year old High School student, who died from a preventable tragedy, with her whole life ahead of her.

I would be grateful to help you connect with any of these resources, please let me know if/how I can help.

With gratitude for your interest in my son’s memory,

Michelle Leopold

Trevor’s mom – forever 18 from fentanyl poisoning, 1/30/01-11/17/19

Greenbrae, CA