Zuckerberg's eyes welled with tears when he was speaking at the University of Kansas about his encounters with people affected by opioid addiction and the consequences of drugs abuse for them and their families. According to the Facebook CEO, the extent of the opioid crisis turned out to be "the biggest surprise" for him during his tour of America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 140 Americans die from opioid overdoses each day. Referencing the thousands of people who have fallen victim to opioid addiction last year, Zuckerberg said that "that’s more people than died from AIDS at the peak of the AIDS epidemic. That’s more Americans that died in the whole of the Vietnam War. It’s more people than die of car accidents and gun violence I think combined, and it’s growing quickly."
The tech CEO commented on the opioid crisis the day after ex-Facebook president Sean Parker had slammed the social network, noting that it creates addiction and exploits human "vulnerability."
In the end of October, US President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Although the designation does not presuppose any additional funding for resolving the crisis, it still could help redirect existing emergency money, particularly toward expanding access to medical services in rural areas. Nevertheless critics say that without more money to fight the epidemic, Trump's declaration will amount to little.
For comparison's sake, automobile fatalities accounted for 40,000 deaths in 2016, according to the US National Safety Council, and there were 17,250 homicides, according to FBI data cited by Quartz Media.