RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Overdose deaths across North Carolina keep climbing, according to state data.

April Rovero, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, said Fentanyl has accelerated the number of drug-related deaths.

“It is not abating, unfortunately, thanks to Fentanyl,” Rovero said. “Unfortunately, it’s making its way into every community out there.”

Parents like Wendie Kidwell are standing up to try and be a part of the solution. Kidwell said her son struggled with substance use and died from suicide in 2022. She’s creating a new peer-based community for teens and young adults who are dealing with substance use disorders and mental health issues.

“It is our mission to lower the overdose numbers as well as suicides for young people,” Kidwell said. “Mental health needs time, people’s time, and in today’s society, we don’t have time.”

According to the North Carolina Office of Medical Examiners, suspected overdose deaths increased by more than 7 percent in 2022, breaking more than 4,000 deaths total.

Thursday’s vigil also served as a time for survivors, families and community members to connect with resources that can save lives. 

Multiple organizations including drug detox centers and a recovery-based high school, spoke up about being at capacity with people who need immediate help.

Among the crowd was Chandler Picot, who himself, survived an overdose eight years ago. Picot has been in recovery for five years and is now advocating in Chatham County to prevent overdoses.

“I had five to ten minutes to live,” Picot said. “So, if I can stand with them and stand as someone who was able to be saved. I feel like I owe that.”