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Rest In Peace, Nick Dunn.
August 13, 2007 2:09 PM   Subscribe

OBITUARIES
Dunn, Nicholas Ryan. August 5, 2007.

"Yesterday my son took his own life. He did not intend to. He did something thousands of people have and are doing, using drugs. Drugs they know nothing about. Drugs recommended and provided by friends or strangers that are not chemists that know what's in them or doctors that knew how much his body could take. My son Nick has devastated us … We also all hurt for a three year old little girl named Kylie Marie who will grow up without her father … Those drugs do not discriminate by race, income, the status of you or of your family. These are those who care about you and those who you care about. Consider them, please! The pleasure is not worth the risks! Goodbye Nick, we love you, and will miss you."
posted by pardonyou? (119 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some background. Readers react. Via Obscure Store & Reading Room.

Note: I didn’t post this to make a statement about drug use. I just thought it was a raw, heartbreaking statement, and an unusual use of the obituary to send a message.

posted by pardonyou? at 2:11 PM on August 13, 2007


Wow. A selfish bastard dumbfuck killed himself via drug overdose, leaving children behind. That never happens.
posted by WCityMike at 2:16 PM on August 13, 2007


I know from recent experience that the Star will print just about anything you submit in an obit. In fact, the funeral homes have a web form they use for that purpose. Any typos or style code violations go straight through to the printed page. I wonder if they saw this coming.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:25 PM on August 13, 2007


Ok, this is as good a place as any to ask. Where the hell does that crackpot style come from
WHERE THEY MAKE STATEMENTS IN ALL CAPS...SEPERATED BY ELLIPSES AND NO OTHER PUNCTUATION...EVEN IF IT'S A QUESTION...AND USUALLY INCLUDES SEVERAL BANALITIES...LIKE...MAKES YOU THINK...HMMM
posted by 2sheets at 2:28 PM on August 13, 2007


2sheets: Really old folks used to the telegraph? If you imagine each set of ellipses as the word STOP it takes on a certain charm.
posted by malphigian at 2:31 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It came from Larry King in his old USA Today column.
posted by smackfu at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2007


Meanwhile, someone committed suicide by gunshot today.

Yeah, it's sad, but I'm not sure I see the point.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:33 PM on August 13, 2007


I think this is a touching post. I also think that WCityMike does one hell of a Comic Book Guy impersonation.
posted by CRM114 at 2:34 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


SUN RISES IN EAST
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:34 PM on August 13, 2007


All Dunn. Next.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:35 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, anecdotally, one may never overcome the loss of a close relative from suicide, or unintentional recreational drug overdose—so it goes.

My condolences to the family.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2007


This "raw, heartbreaking statement" is totally worthless without being more specific than "drugs". Which drugs? How much? How did he die?

Wait, here's another obit coming in:
Yesterday my son took his own life. He did not intend to. He did something millions of people have and are doing, driving cars. Cars they know nothing about. Cars recommended and provided by friends or strangers that are not automotive engineers that know what's in them or highway safety experts that knew how to drive safely. Realize you have no more idea of what or how much is too much of what you're putting your body into than those selling it to you. Those cars do not discriminate, by race, income, the status of you or of your family. These are those that care about you and those that you care about. Consider them please! The pleasure is not worth the risks!

(But then, I for one have long considered "car salesman" to be about as honorable a profession as "illegal drug salesman")
posted by wendell at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2007 [12 favorites]


Shit, this story wasn't even interesting enough to stay on Reddit. One jackhole uses drugs irresponsibly and dies, leaving a griveing family, like many others do every day. Excuse me while I try to muster up some sympathy.

(Mustering...mustering...mustering...)

Nope. Still don't care. Not even for the family.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:44 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's sad, but I'm not sure I see the point.

If someone hands you something and says: " Here krinklyfig take this, you'll like it!" don't do it!. That's my guess (but I could be wrong). Unless it's drugs that Morpheus offers, in that case take the blue pill.
posted by MikeMc at 2:45 PM on August 13, 2007


.
posted by caddis at 2:47 PM on August 13, 2007


Obitutorialising. Sad but what's it doing on the blue?
posted by Gratishades at 2:49 PM on August 13, 2007


Wendell, I think it's a bit of an overstatement to say it is a totally worthless statement without more details. Perhaps it does not inform you as much as you would like, but as a matter of worth or value, I'd wager the family of this man would disagree.

Will it impact anyone that reads it? Will it save lives? Impossible to say. But neither of these things has any bearing on it's worth or value, since these concepts are completely subjective.

Furthermore, it's clear the parents intended this message as a warning to others that they might avoid the same fate. It's efficacy or lack thereof is debatable, but the intention alone certainly qualifies as worthwhile in my opinion.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:51 PM on August 13, 2007


Nope. Still don't care. Not even for the family.


I pity you.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:53 PM on August 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yes, it does read just like a public service announcement.
posted by smackfu at 2:53 PM on August 13, 2007


DRUGS ARE BAD, PEOPLE! BAD BAD BAD! THIS GUY DIED! OF DRUGS!
posted by puke & cry at 2:59 PM on August 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Looks like the heartless asshole brigade is out in full force.
posted by Snyder at 3:00 PM on August 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


Realize you have no more idea of what or how much is too much of what you're putting your body into than those selling it to you.

What=
Unless you've got a tester, and the dealer doesn't. Then you know more about what you're putting into yourself than the dealer. Or, conversely, if the dealer has a tester, and you don't, in which case the dealer knows more about what you're putting into yourself than you do.

How much is too much=
Unless, of course, you've researched the drug in question more than the dealer. Then you have more of an idea. Or, conversely, if they've researched it and you haven't. Then they have more of an idea.

Tricky thing, this whole "you don't know more about blah than some other person, unless you in fact do know more about blah than that other person" thing.
posted by Bugbread at 3:01 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Y'know, once I got over my inherent instinct to lay some third-rate snark down, I thought about the obit a little more and I'm kind of glad that pardonyou? shared it— it's a bit of weird America, one of the banal tragedies that does happen every day.

And yeah, you could answer "So what?" and prove yourself to be a particularly unreflective sort. But why? I mean, if there's anything more lame than an accidental overdose, it's the incredibly thin responses that it drew.

Remember, snarking responsibly also means waiting until you have something funny to say.
posted by klangklangston at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Obits are paid announcements. They will, in fact, print nearly anything you submit. Families usually just do straight bio, but some are like little essays like the one seen above. I've written hundreds of obits. None quite like this, but some even more heartbreaking.

Reminds me of a funeral I had this past spring. A teenager died in a car wreck. The funeral was packed with high school kids. The minister stood up, said a few words about the deceased and then said, "You know, I don't usually get a chance to talk to this many teenagers all I once, so I have a few things I'd like to say." He then went on to speak for almost half an hour on morality, self-sacrifice, duty to the community, the love of family. His words were directed straight at the kids and he didn't pull punches. I've never heard a eulogy quite like that. It got a bit sanctimonious at times, but to be totally honest, even I cried a bit during the service, so maybe it made a difference in the lives of some of these kids.
posted by ColdChef at 3:03 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


The readers comments are just one heartbreak after another. My prayers go to the families.
posted by coffee and minarets at 3:04 PM on August 13, 2007


I'm not a compassionless person but seriously... MehFilter.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 3:04 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


This makes me want to write out my obituary, so that if I happen to die in some stupid way, the people close to me will have something good to say about me instead of condensing my life story as "Erik's only real achievement in life was to fuck up in such a stupid way that his death could serve as a warning to others."

Yeah, it's sad that someone died of drugs. It's also sad that that's all his father wants us to know about him.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:05 PM on August 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


Wendell, I think it's a bit of an overstatement to say it is a totally worthless statement without more details. Perhaps it does not inform you as much as you would like, but as a matter of worth or value, I'd wager the family of this man would disagree.

Ofcourse, the family of this man does probably know those details.
posted by stifford at 3:06 PM on August 13, 2007


I TOLD U I WAS HARDCORE
posted by loquacious at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Looks like the heartless asshole brigade is out in full force.

Yeah, I'm coming to that same conclusion, Snyder. I'm surprised by the hostility -- I thought it was a moving message, using an unusual medium, thereby making it worthy of discussion. But it's certainly possible that I'm just unusually moved by raw emotion today for whatever reason. I may need to get back in touch with my inner bastard.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2007


Drugs are bad! You can overdose on drugs! Any drug!
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn’t post this to make a statement about drug use.

Oh, OK. You posted it to make a statement about unusual ways to make a statement about drug abuse.

Would you go ahead and explicitly make the statement about unusual ways to make a statement about drug abuse that you're making, please? I can't infer it from the information that you've provided.

To "derail" the post and talk about drug abuse for a minute: anyone who thinks that they can prevent OD's by lecturing the user about how self-destructive they're being simply doesn't understand the psychology of drug abuse. Period.

This is a heartfelt cry of anguish; but it fails in terms of nuanced understanding, as do most outcries of grief. It does not contribute to the understanding or prevention of drug abuse or overdoses. So unless it's interesting to direct attention to pain and suffering, I'm missing the point.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:15 PM on August 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


23skidoo writes "Yeah, it's sad that someone died of drugs. It's also sad that that's all his father wants us to know about him."

Really? I mean, I'm apparently part of the heartless snark brigade, but even then, I think this was a much better obit than "Erik liked model trains when he was little, and kept that love of trains into his adult life as a railroad conductor" or the like. Frankly, information like that is completely useless unless you know the person, and then you already know it. Writing a warning about drugs may be almost completely useless, but "almost useless" is a damn sight better than "completely useless". I'd find it sadder if his dad wanted to tell strangers about minutiae that he knew they would have no interest in than if he wanted to effect some modicum of positive change.
posted by Bugbread at 3:16 PM on August 13, 2007


I'm putting my bigfoot down on drugs!
posted by vishnubob at 3:16 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


vishnubob

Right the fuck on. I'll be sparking up as the new season starts tonight.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2007


I think the real moral here is that there are some risks in life that are not worth it. Taking nonprescription drugs is a calculated risk (so are prescription drugs to a point, although a much more mitigated and monitored risk). If the deceased in this case had realized that by taking "drugs" he was incurring a large amount of risk that is going to harm his child, immediate family, and community, perhaps he wouldn't have taken them.

Illegal drug use, and abuse, are just more of a recognized risk. If this guy had died from parachuting because he didn't check his own parachute and used a friend's, I doubt it'd have been written that way, but who the hell takes that risk?
posted by mikeh at 3:21 PM on August 13, 2007


This is a really terrible story. However, at the end of the day, drugs are analogous to cars. They have many uses, and there are deadly risks involved. Some people won't use them responsibly, and some people will die because of them, but most people will live better lives because of them.

I think the stigma and our incredible tradition of imprisoning addicts in this country are very damaging. If addiction were treated like the disease it is, we'd have more people willing to seek treatment when they absolutely need it.
posted by mullingitover at 3:23 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I pity you.

Pity someone who gives a fuck. That'd probably be the family, moreso than me or anyone else.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:24 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those drugs do not discriminate

Blaming inanimate objects helps no-one. Though I guess it is a true statement. How can an inanimate object discriminate?

It's not the drugs fault! Either the user took too much through lack of education or the drug was crap quality.

The unfortunate thing about some drugs being illegal while others are legal is it sparks some peoples curiosity - why can't I have that. Forbidden fruits. This situation doesn't help society at all.

It just helps create this black market and puts people in dangerous situations. from having to deal with the sorts of people you would rather not give your money to, to taking a pill in the faith it is what that dodgy bloke told you it was.
posted by twistedonion at 3:27 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yawn.
posted by chairface at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2007


If I put together a post for everybody I've known who's died of a drug OD, would those count as doubles?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, I know a guy named Ryan Dunn who uses a lot of drugs.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2007


Frankly, information like that is completely useless unless you know the person, and then you already know it. Writing a warning about drugs may be almost completely useless, but "almost useless" is a damn sight better than "completely useless". I'd find it sadder if his dad wanted to tell strangers about minutiae that he knew they would have no interest in than if he wanted to effect some modicum of positive change.

Well, I'm not talking about whether the obituary was useful, I'm talking about whether it was effective. Sure, if he used the obituary to direct people to his website where he sells ironic t-shirts, that would be pretty useful, but it's still be crap.

For me, it'd be more effective as a warning if I thought that the life that he ended prematurely was worth living in some way. That, or if they just totally hated on him. Like pure, unadulterated hatred for dying unnecessarily so early in his life.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:31 PM on August 13, 2007


Faint of Butt writes "Drugs are bad! You can overdose on drugs! Any drug!"

The LD50 for chocolate is 100 mg/kg.
posted by Bugbread at 3:36 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


For the record, I haven't touched an illegal drug in the last 25 years or taken a legal drug that wasn't specifically prescribed to me in 5 (and the only ones I recall were high potency Ibuprofen). And I do take several prescribed drugs daily that I know little about, because I trust my doctor.

"DIED OF DRUGS" means as much as the South Park running joke "They killed Kenny! The bastards!".

My google-fu fails me, but I'm fairly confident that the numbers show more people dying from legally prescribed medications than illegal drugs (including Anna-Nicole Smith). What does it mean? It means Mourning Dad doesn't show ANY actual insight as to what killed his son than his son knew what was going to kill him. Maybe he does know more. Most likely the more he did know would have just gotten in the way of an over-simplified "DON'T DO DRUGS" message.

But then, the attacks from the MetaFilter Snark Brigade won't do any more to discourage this kind of emotion-based non-information than Mourning Dad's message will discourage anybody from using "DRUGS".
posted by wendell at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2007


This is a really terrible story. post.

Fixed that for you.
posted by dhammond at 3:40 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


23skidoo writes "Well, I'm not talking about whether the obituary was useful, I'm talking about whether it was effective."

I thought you were talking about whether it was sad that he wrote that instead of something else. That's all my comment was meant to address. Plus, I think I misread you: I thought you meant it was sad that the obit was about the drug death, and not about his elsewise worthwhile life. Instead, if I'm reading you right, you didn't mean that binarily, but that it was sad that it was only about the drug death, and not a combination of worthwhile life + drug death. Sorry about the misreading.
posted by Bugbread at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2007


interesting...

much more honest than the obits that try to cover the fact that some poor decisions were made. Perhaps something good will come from it...

And, for those of you critical of the family in this case...you just.don't.get.it

and, oh yeah, STFU
posted by HuronBob at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Someone fetch me 8.61825503 grams of chocolate, stat. Oh, wait - on second thought, make that 8.6 grams, even. That way I stand a better chance of trying chocolate again tomorrow.

Chocolate is just a gateway drug to caffeine, anyway. It starts with mocha - that's how they hook you.
posted by caution live frogs at 3:45 PM on August 13, 2007


The LD50 for chocolate is 100 mg/kg.

*furiously does math, eyes go wide imaging mountain of chocolate*

*dissapointed that it's only about 9.5 kilos, shrugs, begins shoveling chocolate into yap*
posted by loquacious at 3:46 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


wendell writes "'DIED OF DRUGS' means as much as the South Park running joke 'They killed Kenny! The bastards!'."

To be honest, that was what was sticking in my mind the whole time I read the obit: "What drugs?" I figured at some point the dad would point out what it was that killed his son. But in the end, it was just "drugs", so it felt like reading an obit that said "My son died from doing something risky. Don't do something risky. It can kill you, and devastate those that love you." So vague that it feels like it slips right under and past you.
posted by Bugbread at 3:47 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think I did that math wrong. But I and the chocolate don't really care, so fuck off. Unless you're bringing more chocolate. 50% cocoa or better, please.
posted by loquacious at 3:48 PM on August 13, 2007


"Today Wendell took his own life. He did not intend to. He did something hundreds of people have and are doing, commenting on posts at MetaFilter. Posts he knows nothing about. Posts recommended and provided by friends or strangers that are not experts that know what's in them or counselors that knew how much his body could take. We also hurt for a little MeFite named BigMusic who will grow up without the person he calls his parent on the contacts page … Those posts do not discriminate by race, income, the status of you or of your family. There are those who care about you and those who you care about. Consider them, please! The pleasure is not worth the risks! Goodbye Wendell, we love you, and will miss you."
posted by wendell at 3:55 PM on August 13, 2007


loquacious writes "I think I did that math wrong."

Good thing. I always imagined you skinny, so when I read that I thought "Loq can't be 95 kg", and I was furiously scanning through your flickr stream trying to find a picture of you to double-check.

Also, you need to tag your flickr pictures. Until then, I'm going to assume you're the cute 3 year old blond kid dancing in this picture.
posted by Bugbread at 3:56 PM on August 13, 2007


2sheets: FOR SOME REASON... IT REMINDS ME OF DRUDGE REPORT....
posted by JHarris at 3:58 PM on August 13, 2007


What if the guy liked hang gliding? "Well at least he died happy, doing the thing that he enjoyed most. I bet he went out with a big grin on his face."

That's what a lot of people would say.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


To be honest, that was what was sticking in my mind the whole time I read the obit: "What drugs?"

Agreed. Approximately 10,000 Americans die every year from aspirin (stomach ulcers and uncontrolled bleeding is not a good combination). Noting what the drug actually was would have been helpful.
posted by mstefan at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2007


the obit reminds me of the story someone writes in every undergrad fiction workshop, where someone tries a drug and instantly has access to ALL drugs. Then they, or their good, good friend, dies. The story always sucks. The author is always a dolt.
posted by vrakatar at 4:07 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with 23skidoo: the obit--however heartfelt--frames the decedent as a putz who couldn't keep from killing himself while On Drugs. The obit would have been infinitely more poignant if it had illuminated the decedent as a devoted dad who loved bluegrass and volunteered at the local humane society, stolen away by his naivete about the speedball his girlfriend mixed for him.

Or whatever the real story was. Heroin? Ketamine? Crystal? Vicodin? OxyContin? The type of drug involved would at least say again to the impressionable: eat THIS shit and you CAN actually die, young Peterkin. The "take any drug and die" message is simply Reefer Madness revisited. On Preview: props to wendell for effectively illustrating this point, supra.
posted by rdone at 4:10 PM on August 13, 2007


I think the real moral here is that there are some risks in life that are not worth it. Taking nonprescription drugs is a calculated risk (so are prescription drugs to a point, although a much more mitigated and monitored risk). If the deceased in this case had realized that by taking "drugs" he was incurring a large amount of risk that is going to harm his child, immediate family, and community, perhaps he wouldn't have taken them.

There are a range of recreational activities in which people die regularly. Mountain climbing, motor racing, swimming and boating, etc. etc. When people die while engaged in these activities, we generally hear a range of comments from 'What a tragic accident' to 'This was tragic, but the person was a brave and fearless hero' to 'he died living the way he wanted to live -- close to the edge, experiencing every moment'.

Now, some drug related deaths have none of these characteristics -- some are miserable, painful deaths of people in the depths of profound addiction, and their death may actually be a blessed relief. Others though, have exactly the same qualities as those of the mountain climber or the race car driver. The only thing that I know for sure is that we all go eventually, and for some people, the risk of dying early is worth the benefit of being able to live your life with the freedom to do the things that you really want to do.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:25 PM on August 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


And, for those of you critical of the family in this case...you just.don't.get.it

well.i.think.i.do.

This family is grieving and angry. Unfortunately because of the stigma associated with having a son die from "bad drugs" they are misdirecting their anger. How about a bit of perspective:

about 22,242 deaths from unintentional poisoning (Narcotics and psychodysleptics accounted for 51% of all poisoning deaths. In the eight states that examined T-code frequencies, the substances associated most frequently with unintentional and undetermined poisoning deaths were cocaine (15% of all identified T-codes), alcohol (8%), heroin (7%), antidepressants (5%), benzodiazepines (5%), and methadone (5%).)

Adverse reactions to prescription drugs are killing about 106,000 Americans each year

438,000 from the cancer stick

So out of those 550,000 or so drug deaths, the bad drugs accounted for maybe 3,000... less than 10%. An estimated 41.7% of the American population have admitted trying illicit drugs. This kid was very unlucky.

Maybe if we were a bit more rational and took a sensible approach to drug taking then this poor father might cope with his grief better than trying to 'reach out' to others in such an ill-informed manner.

Protect your kids by educating, not scaring them.
posted by twistedonion at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2007 [9 favorites]


Good thing. I always imagined you skinny, so when I read that I thought "Loq can't be 95 kg"

Hah. I did do the math right. Except now I have 20 pounds of chocolate in me. Oooof.

Skinny? Hell no. Active? yes.
posted by loquacious at 4:31 PM on August 13, 2007


Yesterday my son took his own life. He did not intend to.

(says who? suicide by OD - like suicide by car accident - is probably the safest way to shield your loved ones from the thought that maybe you actually did intend to die. these things are always seen as accidents, and your loved ones receive a convenient scapegoat. damn drugs! damn cars!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on August 13, 2007


No, wait, you did do the math wrong. And the statistic I quoted has got the be wrong.

100 mg per kg = 9500 mg per 95 kg.
9500 mg = 9.5 grams.
I'm pretty sure I've eaten a lot more than that and never died once, even though statistically I should have died half the time.

Lousy internet information.
posted by Bugbread at 4:36 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


He died from stupidity. Sorry bout that. If someone gets drunk and wrecks their car into a tree, do you blame the car? If a cop accidently shoots himself with the gun, do you blame the gun? If a rock climber falls off a rock while climbing without a rope, do you blame the rock? Do you arrest the person who sold him the rock climbing shoes? People do stupid things. Drugs are dangerous. So are chain saws, cars, cigarettes alcohol, sports, and life in general. Stupid people do stupid things with powerful tools. Naw, lets burn the witches instead. It makes us feel better.
posted by sensi63 at 4:37 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


ColdChef: Ye gawds. If I was ever at a funeral where some shit like that went down that preacher would be out a few teeth. Fucking sanctimonious prick.
posted by Riemann at 4:40 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Riemann writes "ColdChef: Ye gawds. If I was ever at a funeral where some shit like that went down that preacher would be out a few teeth. Fucking sanctimonious prick."

Probably not. The guy was in a room full of teens. In any group like that, there are going to be people who get really pissed about being lectured at. There are certain folks who can pull off a lecture without pissing those kids off. There are far more folks who can't. The fact that the guy pulled it off without walkouts or tell-offs indicates he is probably one of those folks who can pull it off, even with people who would normally be pissed off at things like that; people like you or me.
posted by Bugbread at 4:45 PM on August 13, 2007


ColdChef: Ye gawds. If I was ever at a funeral where some shit like that went down that preacher would be out a few teeth. Fucking sanctimonious prick.

He actually struck a pretty fair balance between lecture and motivational speech. There was plenty of "You shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do this" but there was also a lot of "but I'm not telling any of you anything you don't know."

Oh, and be careful punching preachers in the South. Most of them wouldn't turn the other cheek.
posted by ColdChef at 5:12 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What the father wanted to do was make his son's life and his death matter -- in his grief, the obituary was the way to do that. I found it very honest. thanks for the post.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:13 PM on August 13, 2007


twistedonion: It's not the drugs fault! Either the user took too much through lack of education or the drug was crap quality.

Not necessarily - more education (and better quality) won't eliminate drug-related deaths. That's the problem with addiction. When you're in the throes, the amount of education you've had is kind of irrelevant.

I agree, though, that obit is pretty meaningless without more information. I admire the attempt and the idealism in itself but in terms of effect it kind of reminds me of that story A&P by John Updike where the bag boy quits after his boss kicks the bathing-suited girls out of the store for being underdressed, if you see what I mean.
posted by granted at 5:20 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


*Drug left unnamed for purposes of blanketing misinformation and fearmongering
posted by tehloki at 5:26 PM on August 13, 2007



What I hate about this use of tragedy to make meaning is that it doesn't actually do what the parents intend it to do-- ie, prevent young people from taking stupid risks with drugs or prevent them from coming to harm should they decide to take such risks.

If you want to prevent kids from taking stupid risks with drugs, you are fighting the biology of young humans, particularly males. They are evolutionarily primed to take risks and show off. They will do this-- whether it is driving too fast, doing "jackass" style stunts or mountain climbing or taking drugs. they will say they won't do it when faced with that preacher and when they are 10 in DARE classes they'll solemnly swear to it and write anti-drug essays and then when with fellow young males and a head full of hormones, off they'll go and do it.

As a result, unless you want to lock your kids in a closet and cause a whole raft of other kinds of harm to them, the best you can hope to do is reduce the harm associated with the risks they do take and minimize the casualties from risks gone wrong.

In that instance, knowing about particular drugs and their particular risks is essential: the best piece of advice I can give about realistic drug education for who want to stay alive is "Don't Mix Downs" (ie, don't take alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and opioids together)-- they synergize and the vast majority of so-called opioid overdose deaths (something like 80%) are actually opioids plus at least one of these other drugs, usually alcohol. Also, mixing stimulants not so great either. Marijuana is genuinely less risky than other drugs and if you avoid powders and injection, that's a good philosophy for reducing drug related harm.

Second, if someone does take something and "goes out," get help IMMEDIATELY-- there's an antidote that can reverse opioid overdose that should be available in all first aid kids but isn't. If a parent of a child who overdosed actually really does want to save lives, he should campaign for this antidote to be provided at every pharmacy with every prescription for even the mildest opioids, so that people have it in the house when it is needed. I first wrote about this for Village Voice here.

Third, anyone who calls for help for an overdose should have exemption from any kind of prosecution or school-related consequences because this is often why people die whilst those around them wait to get help for fear of these secondary consequences.

Fourth, as people have mentioned above, sometimes these are genuinely suicide attempts, not accidental overdoses. it's really important to keep watch over your friends and try to urge depressed people to get help-- obviously, this doesn't always work, but it's another thing that can be done.

Scare tactics like showing people images of kids who have died from drugs have never worked on teens-- they work on adults and they win advertising awards and they make you *think* they work on kids because they seem impressed, but they simply don't affect risk-taking behavior because they don't address the need to take and master risks.
posted by Maias at 5:26 PM on August 13, 2007 [14 favorites]


granted writes "Not necessarily - more education (and better quality) won't eliminate drug-related deaths. That's the problem with addiction. When you're in the throes, the amount of education you've had is kind of irrelevant."

Of course, we don't know if he died due to addiction or not. If so, then, yeah, education really won't help much. If it was something simpler, like just not knowing what kind of dose of non-addictive drugs is lethal, then education might help. And if it's a pseudo-drug death, like that girl who died by drinking too much water trying to sober up from Ecstasy, then education would definitely help. Kinda hard to tell which is the case when we only know that the name of the drug he was using was "drugs".

So, true, "not necessarily", but that's not the same as "that's not true". Just "maybe, maybe not, depends on the specifics".
posted by Bugbread at 5:27 PM on August 13, 2007


Oh, and if I could pick my own method of death, I'd definitely go with massive heroin overdose. Here's hoping that's what took this man down, and not eating 95kg of chocolate.
posted by tehloki at 5:29 PM on August 13, 2007


"*Drug left unnamed for purposes of blanketing misinformation and fearmongering"

IT WAS THE POTS!

Or maybe Cumadin or something.
posted by klangklangston at 5:34 PM on August 13, 2007


bugbread:Of course, we don't know if he died due to addiction or not.

Right, I agree. I meant to imply that thought with my statement about the obit being meaningless without more information, but should have been more explicit.
posted by granted at 6:00 PM on August 13, 2007


thanks for posting this pardonyou. despite the either feigned or heartless indifference from some, this is just the sort of interesting little tidbit one would likely not find without the assistance of MeFi. It's different, offbeat, and sort of poignant. I wouldn't want to see these every day, but it sure is a break from the boring "so and so celebrity died today" tedium we see so much of. Let's see what all the smart alacks have to say next time they need to write an obit, especially for their child. Think about losing a parent at 10, then multiply, I am not sure what by, but keep doing it.
posted by caddis at 6:08 PM on August 13, 2007


Geez, I thought the whole obit was sad, a cry from the heart of the parents. Many obits and paid death notices hide or gloss over the cause of death. I don't read anything more into it beyond that this is all the parents could say.
posted by etaoin at 6:14 PM on August 13, 2007


I must be missing something here. I’ve been dicking with drugs for forty years and I’m still alive and Keith Richard thrives on that shit. He’s older than dirt and skinny as a rail, but when he falls out of a tree on drugs he just bounces once and it doesn’t even put a glitch in the Rolling Stones concert schedule.

I say Bad Parenting.
posted by Huplescat at 6:19 PM on August 13, 2007


seriously? this hasn't been deleted yet? wtf?
posted by dr. moot at 6:26 PM on August 13, 2007


A positive drug story
posted by hortense at 6:48 PM on August 13, 2007


bugbread: the figure of 100mg/kg is good for animals such as dogs and cats-- with humans, the real LD50 issue would be the caffiene, with toxicity reported between 18 and 50 grams.

Gimme dat chocolate.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:01 PM on August 13, 2007


Fear mongering in your obituaries? Is nothing sacred America?
posted by furtive at 7:23 PM on August 13, 2007


I feel for this guy losing his kid, but you've got to be pretty stupid to OD. This guy's message isn't going to stop anybody either, he might as well be saying "don't do stupid stuff, it might kill you", he should be saying something like "Don't buy drugs from strangers" or "don't take drugs without finding out what a lethal dose is". If you're buying any form of generic white powder from a complete stranger, you're an idiot, you might as well play russian roulette.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:25 PM on August 13, 2007


You gotta keep the Devil way down in the hole.
posted by bwg at 7:39 PM on August 13, 2007


you've got to be pretty stupid to OD

It all depends on what you are taking smart guy. Pot just makes you stupid and lazy but fentanyl will take you out if you mess up even just a little. Who knows what this kid was into. Good luck with your life. I suggest you not have kids.
posted by caddis at 7:47 PM on August 13, 2007


No, not necessarily to do with stupidity. More like bad luck.

Many opioid OD's are poorly understood--since opioids-plus other downs tend to be the major killers, this means most OD's.

Sometimes people overdose on a dose they have previously tolerated, even if they haven't done anything like detoxing that would reduce their tolerance. this may have to do with psychological factors that are again, poorly understood-- but since opioids are part of the stress response system which is highly reactive to psychological and emotional experience, this isn't actually surprising.

but generally, once you have a tolerance to opioids and you don't do anything foolish like kicking or adding new things like other depressants, it's actually pretty hard to OD.

and, of course, there's always impurities in illegal supplies and variations of dose of actual drug in illegal production.

Most opioid overdoses, however, happen either in naive users or in people who have recently detoxed and who don't realize they can't tolerate their old dose anymore.
posted by Maias at 8:02 PM on August 13, 2007


"No, I don't do drugs anymore, either. But I'll tell you something about drugs. I used to do drugs, but I'll tell you something honestly about drugs, honestly, and I know it's not a very popular idea, you don't hear it very often anymore, but it is the truth: I had a great time doing drugs. Sorry. Never murdered anyone, never robbed anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, a car, a house, a wife or kids, laughed my ass off, and went about my day."
posted by nightchrome at 8:16 PM on August 13, 2007


Oh, OK. You posted it to make a statement about unusual ways to make a statement about drug abuse.

Your sarcasm is duly noted, but, yes, that is exactly why I posted it (without the "...about drug abuse" part). That and I thought the backstory about the father made it an interesting human interest story about a family struggling to come to terms with a son's death, and using an unconventional method to publicize issues related to that death.

I clearly misjudged how this post would be received here, but we can't all be jonson, right?

Would you go ahead and explicitly make the statement about unusual ways to make a statement about drug abuse that you're making, please? I can't infer it from the information that you've provided.

Well, again, it's the "...about drug abuse" part that I never intended to address. To use an example upthread, it could have been about cars ... or skydiving, or crocodile hunting, or whatever you want. For what it's worth, I think marijuana should be fully legalized, and I'm not automatically opposed to legalizing other drugs with appropriate safeguards. Not sure why this caused so much consternation, but then again it is MetaFilter...
posted by pardonyou? at 8:34 PM on August 13, 2007


"Yesterday my son took his own life. He did not intend to. He did something thousands of people have and are doing, snarking. Snarking at things and people they know nothing about. Snarking recommended and encouraged by friends or strangers that are not psychologists that know how much the target could take or policemen that knew how likely reprisal might have been.

All he did was say, "Your favorite obituary sucks". And now, I'm writing one for him"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's disappointing to see some of the reactions here.

Drugs are terrible. They do nothing but harm in the end. It is the responsibility of those who take them, yes, but after a while, addiction sets in. It's also a culture that's lax when it comes to dissuading their use that's also at fault here.

We need better police tactics, longer jail terms, and better enforcement to get these dealers off the streets.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:52 PM on August 13, 2007


My twin brother died of a drug overdose in 2005. He overdosed on Oxycontin. He was an addict and had overdosed about six months prior and survived that one, of course.

Yes, he was stupid and selfish. No, I am not seeking anyone's pity.

But what you have to understand that's important about this obit is that of my experience is typical, parents and the rest of the family (I come from a family of seven kids- well, six now) refuse to acknowledge, and certainly not to make public, the cause of death. My brother's "remembrance page," which his girlfriend paid for to remain online permanently, is full of schlock ("I know you're happy with Dad in heaven"). My posts have been along the lines of "if you'd like to make Paul's death meaningful, please let your loved ones know the consequences of the abuse of prescription painkillers." My comments get deleted.

I have great respect for this dad and his willingness to go public, especially if the death was from the same drug that my brother overdosed on. Silence isn't going to help anyone, and I'd think that nobody wants a young person's idiotic, avoidable death to be for naught, especially when the only think like all those stupid anti-pot PSAs for warning about the very real consequences of prescription narcotics is the word of mouth of people like me.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:03 PM on August 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Huplescat: I must be missing something here. I’ve been dicking with drugs for forty years and I’m still alive and Keith Richard thrives on that shit.

aka "The experience of myself and this other guy prove it impossible that someone else could have a completely different experience."

If you were able to use hard drugs recreationally without severe consequences, then hooray. Some people can. Some people can't. Some people have no allergies, but when a kid goes into anaphylactic shock from eating a peanut nobody blames "bad parenting."
posted by granted at 9:07 PM on August 13, 2007


We need better police tactics, longer jail terms, and better enforcement to get these dealers off the streets.

Awww, that's adorable!
posted by dhammond at 9:07 PM on August 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


I yam full-on into drugs.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:21 PM on August 13, 2007


1... 2... 3....
posted by Huplescat at 9:25 PM on August 13, 2007


Why do people who say they don't care bother to comment at all? News flash: no one cares that you don't care.
posted by homunculus at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


huplescat, you'd think living in melvindale would be punishment enough
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2007


pardonyou? writes "I clearly misjudged how this post would be received here, but we can't all be jonson, right?"

I dunno. It comes across as a bit like a PSA. Kinda preachy and pedestrian. The latter probably wouldn't be as true if the generic "drugs" had been more specific. I know this breaks the hearts of this family, but I don't really agree with their approach to dealing with the problem. We need more education and less scaremongering. The status quo contributes to the very nature of this problem, and propagating it won't help.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:43 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


cmgonzalez writes "We need better police tactics, longer jail terms, and better enforcement to get these dealers off the streets."

That's what we've been doing for the last, oh, 25 years or so, since the crack scare of the '80s, and really since the days of alcohol prohibition. It just doesn't work. It does create a huge class of people who have prison records, and who are not put there for rehabilitative purposes, but who haven't committed violent crimes. But don't take my word for it. We have the largest prison population of any nation on earth, in large part due to the Drug War. So, how is it working?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:46 PM on August 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


mmm, drugs...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:09 PM on August 13, 2007


As soon as that father quits using anger at drugs to insulate
himself, he can get down to the painful and personal task of
waking up every morning in a world that has a son-shaped
hole in it, and finding a way to carry on. Anger can forestall
grief, but true grief is perishable.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:45 PM on August 13, 2007


Drugs are terrible. They do nothing but harm in the end.

Nothing but preserve life and make it more interesting, anyway.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:58 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I feel like our arguments could largely be cleared up if we just got some better words to use. What the hell does "drugs" mean, anyway? One person's saying, "I don't like drugs, drugs are bad," while imagining the dangers of smoking crack or something, to which someone else responds "Hey, I like drugs, and I think they're great" as they imagine lighting a nice spliff, and we're all just talking at cross purposes.

Also, buying and using unknown drugs is a bad idea. Who knows what's in that stuff? Crazy!

That's why I make my own.
posted by bepe at 12:09 AM on August 14, 2007


I'm very sorry for your loss, ethnomethodologist. Every early death is a tragedy. However, do you *really* believe that there are people out there who aren't aware of the potential risks associated with using opiates, be they prescription or not? I'd suggest to you that not a single person is dissuaded from using by this kind of 'warning'. Their real purpose, in my opinion, is to try and make loved ones feel less powerless in the face of their loss, or as you say, that they are doing something that might actually make a difference.

Unfortunately, it doesn't. Presumably, you gave this kind of warning to your twin brother before he died, and it had no impact on his decisions. What makes you think anybody else would respond differently?

Of course, there is a very easy measure that we can take that can reduce these deaths dramatically. If you *really* want to reduce the number of opioid related deaths, you could lobby for the widespread distribution of Naloxone to drug users, their families and friends.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:55 AM on August 14, 2007


Drugs are terrible. They do nothing but harm in the end.

So how is that ignorance going? Blissful I bet.
posted by twistedonion at 3:36 AM on August 14, 2007


For those of you who are now curious about this chocolate thing:

Chocolate Toxicity Table

posted by BishopsLoveScifi at 4:40 AM on August 14, 2007


BishopsLoveScifi, that table applies to domesticated animals, not humans (not that we're not animals, but we're hopefully not pets)
posted by exlotuseater at 5:49 AM on August 14, 2007


Yeah, that's where I got my numbers from. Unfortunately, all LD-50 numbers come from pets/lab animals, because (obviously) you're not really allowed to dose humans with increasing amounts of substances to determine the point at which 50% of them die.

Though I'm sure they'd get lots of volunteers for a human chocolate LD-50 test.
posted by Bugbread at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2007


Coldchef: Obits are paid announcements. They will, in fact, print nearly anything you submit.

Teeny tiny nitpicky correction: Obituaries are a free service provided by newspapers, and the content is written and edited by newspaper staff, often with very strict guidelines about style and content.

Sadly, free obituaries are uncommon these days and generally reserved for people who were well known and influential in the community.

They have been replaced by death notices, which are in fact paid advertisements just like classified ads. As with other advertisements, death notices are printed in a different font or different size from other newspaper content.

The Dunn piece is a prime example of a death notice, even if the Indy Star calls it an obit.
posted by brina at 7:04 AM on August 14, 2007


"My prayers go out to the families," has got to be one of the laziest, shittiest, most self-righteous formulations of psuedo-sympathy in the world. It sucks.
posted by OmieWise at 8:50 AM on August 14, 2007


So... don’t buy chocolate in large doses from some guy on the street. Got it.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:56 AM on August 14, 2007


Best of the web, worst of metafilter.
posted by Snyder at 9:13 AM on August 14, 2007


I'd only have to eat 23 pounds of chocolate to hit my LD50!
posted by klangklangston at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2007


Best of the web, worst of metafilter.

Oh, bullshit. Emotionality does not excuse poorly formed conclusions and should never guarantee lack of critical thinking in the screeds recipients. Refusing to kowtow to someone else's attempt to use their pain propagandistically is a desirable character trait. The "worst of" is in the propagandist.
posted by OmieWise at 10:04 AM on August 14, 2007


Maybe this will be the news item that stops everyone from using drugs.
posted by telstar at 1:52 PM on August 14, 2007


On second reading it seems to me that the bereaved is making a case for chemists to help purify drug substances and doctors to recommend doses. I can't say I disagree with that.
posted by telstar at 1:58 PM on August 14, 2007


My ex-boyfriend sent me a ten pound Ghirardelli bar when I was in the dorms, claiming to have read that said amount of chocolate approximated the feeling of love. I got fat, fed up of chocolate, and a lot of new stoner friends. I never realized it was attempted homicide. What a jerk!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Death by chocolate.

Secret death by chocolate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on August 14, 2007


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