Speak Up and Speak Out

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University students filed into the Student Union's Centennial Hall Thursday night.

ASU's Counseling Center worked in collaboration with the William Doerhoff Memorial Foundation to present, "Speak Up and Speak Out" to students.

William Christian Doerhoff was a student at the University of Arkansas.

He died in October 2016 from a drug overdose.

Now those who loved him most are traveling to colleges and universities to educate others about drug use.

Scott Doerhoff said William was a great person.

"My son, Will Doerhoff was the perfect child," Doerhoff said. "He was outgoing, polite, kind and very smart. He was very diligent about helping other folks. He was president of his community service club at Little Rock Catholic High and spent his weekends volunteering to help people out."

Doerhoff said William was first introduced to drugs in college.

"When he went to school," Doerhoff said. "He was introduced to prescription drugs. It started out as permissive behavior amongst boys in a fraternity. Then it escalated with some of the other boys, including Will. And when Will came home from his first year of college, he had been introduced to narcotics in an injectable and smoking form. Because we had taken his money from him, he went to the cheaper route of narcotics which is heroine. And he overdosed. He made it a year in sobriety. He relapsed twice and the second time it killed him. My son's drug use was less than six months."

Doerhoff said they want to encourage students to speak up for those not speaking up for themselves.

"This is so important," Doerhoff said. "Because there were opportunities for Will's friends to speak up and say something. Because there were about 20 of them that knew what was going on with Will and how he had progressed away from what the crowd was doing because of just a few people. And they didn't say anything because they didn't want to offend Will or scare Will. As parents, had we known our son had gotten involved in that when he left our home, he would have been home immediately."

During the session, they showed the film, "Chasing the Dragon."

The film follows the story of multiple people who are addicted to heroin and opioids.

Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration for the state of Arkansas, has been working with the foundation to help spread the word.

He said the film makes an impact.

"It's a very compelling story," Barden said. "It's one that shows the real-life addiction to drugs and the sadness and the damage that this substance does to individuals and to their families."

After the film, Barden and Doerhoff spoke to students in attendance.

"In 2015, which is the latest numbers that we have," Barden said. "Over 144 people a day died from drug overdoses in the United States. 63% of those people died specifically from the use of heroin or opioids. If you put that into terms of the city of Jonesboro and the campus of Arkansas State University, you're talking within 98 days there would be no students at Arkansas State University. The overdoses would take away 14,085 students in a period of three months. When you talk about the city of Jonesboro, you're looking at a population somewhere a little over 67,000 people. 144 deaths a day in the city of Jonesboro, there would be no Jonesboro in a period of 467 days."

"Our whole mission," Doerhoff said. "Is to teach students that if they speak up and speak out when they know their friends are involved in drugs, then they have the potential to save their life."

Barden said this is an epidemic that will only get solved by everyone working together.

"This is killing 144 people a day," Barden said. "We are an agency that not only enforces the law, but we understand we can't arrest our way out of this situation. We know we have to come together, collectively with colleges and schools and physicians and treatment professionals. We have to collectively come up with something that is going to help or solve this problem."

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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