IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — San Diego county officials held an event in Imperial Beach Tuesday night to discuss solutions for addressing the ever-growing fentanyl crisis in communities across the region.

The Mayor of Imperial Beach and the County District Attorney were in attendance at the event held in Mar Vista’s High School gymnasium, speaking with residents about the dangers of fentanyl and what needs to be done if someone they know accidentally overdoses.

As officials explained, the solution to addressing the crisis begins with awareness.

“My son came into the room and said, ‘Mom, I feel hopeless. I don’t want to be here anymore,'” Carmelita Trujillo shared about her experience losing her son to a fentanyl overdose. “An hour later, I heard his sister screaming. I came into the room, and it was too late.”

Her son, Marcelino Camarena, had committed suicide by fentanyl overdose following a years-long battle with depression. Almost a year to the date after her son’s death, Trujillo is sharing his story along with a message for other people about the deadly impacts of fentanyl.

“Because the right of refusal here in San Diego we could not get the help that we needed, and his problems just escalated and escalated and escalated,” said Trujillo.

Dozens attended Tuesday’s event, which was at Camarena’s old school, with hopes of using his story for prevention, awareness and solutions.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens in the future,” Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre said.

According to county-wide statistics, overdose deaths of teens aged 17 and under doubled from 2020 to 2021.

“We’ve prosecuted 503 dealers — including seven for murder — because this really is selling a poison,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “We’re making sure that people understand that the days of experimenting, those days are over … today’s experiment is sadly tomorrow’s funeral.”

It’s a reality that Mar Vista High School Principal Teresa Kramer is working to prevent on her school grounds. “The more the parents know, the more likely it is that we can save their lives,” said Kramer.

Tuesday’s gathering did just that for those there.

Law enforcement agencies ended the night handing out overdose reversal drug Narcan — a live-saving pill that could have prevented the death of a beloved Imperial Beach son.

“Never say that it can’t happen,” Trujillo said. “Always be aware, always be involved. Always be diligent.”

Overdose-related treatment and prevention resources can be found on the San Diego County Health and Human Services website here.

Narcan can also be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription or any San Diego County Public Health Center, no questions asked.