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Rise Above Colorado asks what’s Denver’s plan for fentanyl

March 9, 2023

Imagine if an airliner dropped from the sky. It would dominate the news. Yet far more people died from fentanyl in Denver just last year than would fit in a typical passenger jet.

In fact, many more people died in Denver last year from fentanyl than from both traffic accidents and homicides combined.

In all, 233 lives were lost last year from fentanyl, according to the Denver Medical Examiner. That’s roughly the same as fentanyl’s 2021 death toll.

We need to treat this overdose epidemic as the public health crisis it has become.

The statistics tell only part of the story.

Each one of these deaths is a unique human tragedy. Each person leaves behind loved ones. Their pain may last for generations.

That’s why the Rise Above Colorado educational campaign uses broken hearts to symbolize each of the lives lost.

The stark and thought-provoking imagery asks: What Is Denver’s Plan?

Rise Above Colorado asked the 17 candidates running for Denver mayor about their plans and 10 have responded so far to four specific questions. Their answers are provided through a convenient candidate comparison tool at

The website also provides information for parents, educators and everyone else about how to limit fentanyl’s toll. The resources were curated with help from Rise Above Colorado’s partners on the project, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and 5280 High School. Boys and Girls Clubs of Colorado also is partnering on the campaign.

“Fentanyl has created a public health epidemic that directly or indirectly impacts everyone in the community,” said Kent MacLennan, executive director of Rise Above Colorado. “Our goal is to give practical information that anyone can use to make a positive impact. By asking ‘What Is Our Plan?’, we want to prompt everyone to think about their role.”

The educational campaign, which uses outdoor and digital ads to reach Denver residents, will continue through June.

SE2 is grateful for the opportunity collaborate with trusted community partners on this life-and-death issue. We all have a role to play.

So, what is our plan?