Following the loss of her teenage son, a Beverlywood mother has taken on a mission to prevent further loss of life at the hands of fentanyl.
Juli Shamash lost her son Tyler in 2018, just after his 18th birthday due to a fentanyl overdose. Since his death, she has made it her life's mission to help prevent other families from going through what hers had to go through.
"Kids are supposed to learn from their mistakes," she said while speaking with CBS reporters. "They're not supposed to die from them."
She put up a series of billboards around her hometown, targeted towards the current fentanyl crisis that seems to have taken America by storm, with over 100,000 overdoses reported in 2021 alone.
The total was higher than the amount of gun and automobile related incidents combined.
They currently adorn the sides of a building adjacent to Hamilton High School in Beverlywood, where parents and students traveling to and from school can clearly see them.
"You won't know it contains fentanyl until it's too late."
"Fentanyl can be in any drug you buy on the street or online."
"One Line. One Pill. Fentanyl Kills."
"Your first time doing drugs can be your last. Fentanyl Kills."
A series of phrases on these billboards, targeted towards high schoolers and their parents, but all with one similar message - Fentanyl Kills.
Shamash co-founded Moms Against Drugs, an organization engineered to "address the overdose epidemic and support the prosecution of drug dealers who cause drug-induced deaths," as detailed on their website.
"He was always sweet," she continued, remarking how teenagers face a considerable amount more pressure than people often recognize. "He just wasn't happy with the person he was and wanted to escape."
Earlier in April, the Drug Enforcement Agency sent a note to law enforcement agencies across the country, warning of "mass overdose events," where they cited seven confirmed mass overdose events throughout the United States, meaning three or more people in one instance.
As a result, 58 overdoses and 29 overdose deaths have been reported.
Fentanyl often pops up in drugs cut and sold illegally like various pills and cocaine.
The billboards have also run from late December to mid-February Olympic Blvd and Barrington Avenue and from December until March on Lincoln and Washington Boulevards.
This third installment, donated by Alchemy Media, will be up until at least May 8.
"It couldn't be a better location, because I think a lot of times for billboards that are up high, the kids are busy on their phones, they're not going to see them," she noted. "This is right when they walk out of Hamilton High School."
Shamash revealed that the fight to prevent other mothers from facing the same circumstances has kept her going over the years.
"If I didn't have this I would be crumbled on the floor in a heap. It gives me a reason to get up everyday," she said.
Moms Against Drugs is still looking for funding to continue pushing their message, with hopes of creating educational programs for schools across the Southland.
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