Thursday, October 23, 2008

EDITORIAL: A three part tragedy

The Intelligencer Journal reported on Oct. 23 that "Police charged a Lititz teenager Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly injecting a Manheim Central High School senior with a lethal dose of heroin at a sleepover party."

This tragedy was a triple failure on the part of the boy and the girl, and indirectly on our school systems and the public:

1) Folly on the part of the boy who injected heroin over the course of several hours and of the girl who encouraged him.

2) Failure on the part of the boy and others at the scene to call 911 for help when over dosing symptoms occured. Proper medication within up to two hours could have saved the girl in a matter of minutes.

Because the use of certain dangerous drugs is illegal, there is a reluctance on the part of participants or witnesses to over doses to notify the authorities because they fear criminal prosecutions.

3) Even when there is a tacit understanding ("Good Samaritan" practices) whereby hospitals do not report emergency calls for overdosing to the police and the police do not seek the information, drug users and those with them, especially youths, do not know about this. (We believe"Good Samaritan" exemption is the understanding here in Lancaster.)

Our schools should not only teach facts concerning what drugs, legal or illegal, are highly dangerous (alcohol and heroin being the two most prevalent here in Lancaster), but they need to also teach the symptoms of over dosing, that overdosing must be reported immediately to 911 or the party rushed to the emergency room of a hospital, and that there will be no investigation by the police.