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Mourning the Passing of Malcolm Graham ’09

The O’Dowd community was devastated to learn Malcolm Rushe Graham ’09 died of an apparent heroin overdose on Aug. 14. His parents, Ricci and Vernae Graham, wrote a moving article, which was published in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, about Malcolm’s struggles. We are providing the text of that article in the hope that it may initiate discussions between adults and young people about the opioid addiction epidemic our country is now experiencing.

From an article in Time magazine: According to federal numbers, 78 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, and that from 2000 to 2014 alone, close to half a million people died from drug overdoses. Pain killer addiction is also giving rise to an epidemic of heroin addiction, which is also an opioid that can be bought illegally without a prescription.

The situation is so serious that the United States surgeon general has sent a letter to every doctor in the United States asking them to help solve the problem. You can find the letter here:

The O’Dowd community has ongoing conversations about how best to educate and help our students so that we can prevent similar tragedies, and school leaders involve students and parents in the development of the health and wellness curriculum.

Counselors provide personal counseling and referrals to outside therapists, as well as provide a host of online resources, with an eye towards helping each student create a healthy lifestyle.

All students take a health education course during sophomore year that includes sections on drug and alcohol addiction, but these topics are also routinely discussed in various classes, such as science and religion.

O’Dowd leaders understand that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate based on gender, race or socio-economics.

Principal James Childs explained, “There is so much stigma attached to all mental disease. Addiction, especially, is an illness that flourishes to the extent that it remains a secret, something that individuals and families are ashamed of, and keep hidden.”

“That’s why we are especially grateful for the Graham family speaking out and allowing us to use Malcolm’s story, his life, as an opportunity to serve our students and their families better, enhancing our O’Dowd approach,” offered Childs.

“O’Dowd students are hard-working and vitally engaged in their activities. They need to receive awareness about choice-dynamics they have control over now. Malcolm’s story highlights the urgency,” he added.

Interested in knowing more about the causes of addiction?

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