LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Since 2019, the number of opioid overdose deaths in people ages 15 to 24 has increased by 37 percent.

The Hampden County District Attorney’s office, local first responders, and medical professionals are trying to raise awareness.

Hampden County DA Anthony Gulluni hosted an education event at Ludlow High School Tuesday night on the availability and danger of counterfeit pills and drugs.

The event focused on ways to prevent accidental poisoning. The state recorded its highest level of opioid-related deaths in history last year, at just under 2,300. One-in-10 of those victims lived in Hampden County and in 93 percent of those cases, the victims tested positive for Fentanyl.

22News spoke with members of the DA’s Youth Advisory Board about why it was so critical to hold forums such as this.

“We have all these social media apps kids use to sell drugs online, so we can see first hand who’s doing it, how they’re doing it. So we can report basically to the parents in front of us here tonight what’s happening, open their eyes a little bit,” said Matthew Favata.

“We’re also kind of starting a conversation, that parents can utilize and have that open space to talk with their kids. And hopefully protect your child from potentially overdosing,” said Keiara Hawes.