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Fentanyl overdose deaths are taking the lives of children in Kansas City and nationally

Cooper Davis, 16 years old, passed away on August 29, 2021 after taking a fake pill containing fentanyl.
Courtesy of Libby Davis
Cooper Davis was 16 when he died on Aug. 29, 2021, after taking a fake pill containing fentanyl.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fentanyl overdose deaths rose 350% between 2019 and 2021. That makes fentanyl overdoses the leading cause of death in this country for people between the ages 18 and 45.

Over the past decade, drug overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal, have become an epidemic in Missouri. The synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.

This drug affects people of all genders, races and age groups in rural and urban Missouri communities.

KCUR's Up To Date was joined by three mothers who lost their children to fentanyl overdoses.

  • Libby Davis started Keepin' Clean for Coop after her son Cooper's death. The organization's goal is to raise awareness and to keep sharing Cooper's story.
  • Lori Smith, a resident of Independence, Missouri, lost her son Matthew Smith last year and says she hasn't heard any response from police or government officials about his case.
  • Virginia Kreiger lost her daughter, Tiffany Robertson, to a fentanyl overdose in 2015. Since then, she has dedicated her life to helping other moms and families raise awareness and to put a stop to the opioid epidemic in America. This work led Kreiger to her current role as the founder of Parents Against Illicit Narcotics (PAIN) and co-founder of Lost Voices of Fentanyl.
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As an assistant producer on Up To Date, my goal is to amplify voices of people who serve as pioneers in their respective fields while shedding light on issues that affect underserved communities. I produce daily conversations to uplift and inspire the people of the Kansas City area to make the world a better place. You can reach me at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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