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Addictions

Overdoses

and Suicides

Mental Health Care's Role in Preventing Tragedy

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BRADY

Brady was my best friend all through High School. We met in Freshman year and were inseparable. While we both got into drinking and smoking weed together, I didn't want to try harder stuff like Heroin. As the years progressed he started speed balling, which is a combination of Heroin and Meth. I didn't realize at the time how much he had turned to all of this, until one night a couple weeks after my 21st birthday when his Father woke me up telling me he was dead. It was one of the worst days of my early adult life...

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In 2002 Brady died at 21 and was one of 17 reported overdose deaths under the age of 24 in Colorado. 

YOUNG ADDICTION

OVERDOSE DEATHS 24 YEARS AND YOUNGER (COLORADO)

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EDDIE

Much like Brady, Eddie B as everyone called him became my best friend in my mid 20s. We collaborated on underground parties we were throwing while teaching each other different Photoshop skills for the fliers we designed for them. Eddie had a rocky start to life and was adopted, so it was hard for me to relate to sometimes. Tragically, issues with addictions and turbulent relationships ended after several failed attempts at suicide before.

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Eddie was 25 in 2008 and was one of 801 reported suicide deaths in the state of Colorado. 

ADDICTION & SUICIDE

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SUICIDE RATES IN

COLORADO 2020

Numbers continue to climb, with the National rate climbing over 25.4% from 1999 to 2016. Colorado has a higher average but not as bad as Wyoming and Seattle.

America's Health Rankings Report

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MIKE

Mike and I weren't as close as the previous friends, but he was an important person to a lot of people. He was a fellow promoter that founded Recon DNB alongside others. Meka was an exceptional graphic designer, DJ, Producer, and friend. He changed the culture in Denver, but had a secret many of us didn't know about. Heroin was consuming his life.

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In 2009 Mike died before 30 and was one of 397 reported overdose deaths in the state of Colorado. 

OVERDOSING

TOTAL OVERDOSE DEATHS In COLORADO

Since 1999

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Why IS THIS HAPPENING MORE AND MORE?

All three of these young men had dreams, goals, ambitions. They had people that loved them and would have done anything for them. All three also had something else in common. They had pains in their life that affected their mental health, and this in turn led them to turning to drugs and alcohol to escape. The problem is often under the surface and many times it is too late by the time we find out, while signs are occasionally there.

Another major issue is the introduction of Fentanyl as a cheap substitute to mix in with Heroin. It is rapidly killing people at a quicker pace than the deadly Heroin that was around 10 and 20 years ago. Truly it is becoming more and more dangerous to play with hard drugs.

Suicide doesn't always come from an addiction, but depressed people that use for comfort often end up in worst condition mentally and may be more open to following through with their plans when high and drunk. Addicts tend to be very secretive about their addiction, so help may never come.

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Who Is Affected?

Tragically these are but 3 stories of thousands that die every year from addiction and feelings of hopelessness. While the scale of how many people each life lost affects cannot be measured, it is important to think about all the ways it impacts our society.

  • Immediate Family

  • Friends

  • Employers

  • Medical Services

  • Emergency Services

  • Police Intervention

  • Neighbors

  • Landlords

  • Therapists/Counselors

  • Others

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HOW CAN WE HELP?

Prevention and Treatment should be primary goals in our society. Both teaching youth early and helping addicts.

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IS THERE REAL HOPE?

While the rates of addiction, suicide, and overdoses continue to grow, there is more and more out there for prevention and treatment. Mental health is a challenging subject to discuss, as everyone has different backgrounds and cultures that they have come from. People from abusive homes or parents that were addicts may wind up becoming addicts themselves. Deep pains from childhood affect people in different ways, so it's hard to put down specific reasons that people turn to a life of using to cope.

These are only the statistics related to deaths every year too unfortunately. There is so much more going on that relates to mental health care, treatment centers, adoption, incarceration, and broken families. It can feel very discouraging to have to deal with other people's issues sometimes, but thinking about our friends and family while talking to them more often can be the difference between life and death. Indeed, suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.

There are also thousands of people who get clean every year through programs like AA and rehabs who go on to live productive lives. Oftentimes someone just needs a helping hand up that will care about them and take time to see them through the hardship and pains of growth to become a different person. Sobriety is hard work for some, and easier for others, but under the surface the real work begins in healing pains that brought about issues to begin with.

Thank you for reading.

Dave Johnson is a father and full-time student at MSU Denver where he designed this for a class in the Communication Design Program. His son Grayson was born on the same day Eddie and Mike died a few years later, giving him some restored hope. He has been sober now for 8 years after recovering from alcoholism that almost claimed his life multiple times.