Family Watch, with the co-sponsorship of the Houston Community College System and Drug Policy Forum of Texas, held the first United States memorial service in honor of youth who have died drug-related deaths. The event was held on Sunday, October 24, 1999: the two-year anniversary of the death of a local youth, Jared Ryan Jackson Lowry. The Houston event was held in collaboration with the Fourth Annual Remembrance Ceremony of Australia's Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform.
The United States is experiencing a record high rate of overdose deaths suffered by youth between the ages of 12 and 25. The Houston forum highlighted the failure of law enforcement-based drug policies to protect youth and the negative consequences of drug war stigmatization and exposed the severe impact of misguided policies on famly and condemed children.
Jennifer Daley, mother and Experiential Specialist for the Houston Community College System, shared the story of her son Jared, who had died two years earlier of a heroin overdose. Ms. Daley acknowledged that the death of her son rested on the shoulders of many-Jared, his family, his friends-but also on a community that makes it difficult for youth who get into trouble with drugs to find help.
On October 24, 1997 Jared died after ingesting heroin. Jared's friends panicked for three hours after he fell unconscious; they were too frightened to seek medical assistance. A humane drug policy in place would have protected Jared's friends from criminal prosecution, and reduced the fear and stigma associated with asking for help in a drug emergency and possibly saved his life.
Family Watch will host a similar event in Seattle, Washington, January 2000 in conjunction with the heroin overdose conference hosted by the Lindesmith Center and other organizations. If you would like more information on the Seattle event, would like a family member or friend remembered during the event, or you would like to see an event such as this take place in your community, please call: