US First Lady Melania Trump has chastised the media for brushing aside coverage of the opioid epidemic and focusing on trivial matters instead.
"I challenge the press to devote as much time to the lives lost and the potential lives that could be saved by dedicating the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories," she said at a town hall on the opioid crisis in Las Vegas on Tuesday, wrapping up her tour to promote her Be Best campaign.
"When we see breaking news on TV or the front pages of newspapers, it is my hope that it can be about how many lives we were able to save through education and honest dialogue."
She then took part in a Q&A session moderated by TV personality Eric Bolling, who lost a son to what police described as an accidental drug overdose.
"I wish the media would talk about it more and educate more children, also adults, parents, about the opioid crisis that we have in the United States," she said. "They do it already, but I think not enough."
In her opening remarks at the town hall, the FLOTUS said that 72,000 Americans had died in 2017 from overdoses, 197 Americans per day. According to government data, this number included more than 28,000 deaths from the abuse of synthetic opioids, which are more frequently obtained from illegal manufacturers rather than prescribed as a medication.
Donald Trump declared a health emergency over opioids in October 2017, urging "all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis" and calling for $17 billion in federal dollars to combat the epidemic in 2019.
Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic has reportedly cost the US economy over $1 trillion since 2001 — and this number is expected to grow 50 percent by the end of next year.