The Palm Beach Post did not casually decide to publish the pictures and personal stories of every person in Palm Beach County who died after taking heroin, fentanyl or illicit morphine in 2015.
Though most families of those who died and who spoke with The Post expressed gratitude for the decision, it will bring some others pain.
But we believe that the staggering toll this epidemic is taking has been largely hidden from public view, and as a result has not been aggressively addressed.
Addiction is a disease, but much like the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, it remains shrouded in secrecy and stigma. The people who are dying in our communities have remained invisible.
We believe that is wrong.
Like other newspapers, The Post could have published the horrifying numbers and not talked about the people behind them. But those who lost their life to addiction are not numbers. They are people, with fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children.
They did not want to die. They did not plan on becoming addicted. They did not plan on losing their struggle.
If, by seeing the people behind the numbers, our community is moved to push for change; if parents, children, wives or husbands come to realize they are not alone in their terrible loss; if one person now struggling with addiction seeks assistance, then these tragic deaths will have brought hope and help to others still alive.
Timothy D. Burke
Publisher and editor
The Palm Beach Post